Before Thursday afternoon, it was arguably likely that these last few weeks of conference play would be Notre Dame's last as a member of the Big East. The Irish don't have the same sort of deep historical roots in the league as, say, Syracuse, but they've nonetheless become synonymous with it. Time, and one bruising Big East battle after another, will do that.
Come to think of it, I hadn't thought about this possibility — that Saturday's home game against Louisville was one of the last few big-time Big East battles we'd see from this program — until it was no longer a possibility. On Thursday, Mike Brey confirmed the Irish aren't leaving the league so soon after all:
"We do know we'll be in the Big East next season," Brey said. "That decision was made last Friday. ...The last hurrah will be next year, not this year."
Brey also told the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton he's confident the so-called "Catholic 7" schools will be in the Big East next year, too:
"I feel strongly that the Catholic schools are going to be there with us," Brey said. "That's one of the reasons we decided to sit tight. It looked like the Catholic schools were not going to be able to formulate the league they're going to put together. Could they put it together in the next six weeks? Nothing would shock me."
Of course, all of this is very much up in the air. Like Brey said, the C-7 could figure things out. Maybe even Notre Dame changes its mind. Its conference realignment. I'm not about to try to predict anything involved here.
What I will say is this: Provided Brey's predictions come true, next year's Big East won't be all that bad, at least as a basketball league. It will still have Cincinnati, UConn, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, ND, Temple, plus improving programs at Villanova, Providence and St. John's. I don't know about you, but I'll watch that league. And I'll deal with the impending Big East apocalypse another day.