Big East will realign

League set to have two 7-team divisions in hoops next season

Va. Tech to join conference

Last-place teams out of league tournament


PHILADELPHIA -- With Virginia Tech joining the Big East next season, the conference will split into two seven-team divisions for men's basketball. It also will alter the format of the postseason tournament in New York so that the last-place team in each division stays home.

Under the new format, Villanova would participate in a division with Connecticut, Boston College, Miami, Providence, St. John's and Virginia Tech, all of whom would play on a home-and-home basis.

However, the Wildcats would play only four teams from the other division to complete their 16-game schedule. That division would include Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Syracuse and West Virginia.

But conference commissioner Michael Tranghese said yesterday that he has been given the authority by Big East athletic directors to schedule crossover games with an eye for television. For example, a pairing such as Connecticut-Syracuse could be on a home-and-home basis even though the two schools are in different divisions.

"It could be a [two-game] series and two single games, or four single games," Tranghese said of the crossover possibilities.

"There has to be an element of fairness, but there are also a variety of business reasons."

Villanova coach Steve Lappas said he was satisfied with the new alignment, although he conceded that both divisions "look pretty hard."

"I think it's going to be interesting," he said.

"We were definitely for divisional play. You could find something right and wrong in everything, but I think this satisfies everyone. I'm happy with the way it came out."

The postseason tournament in women's basketball also will use a 12-team format.

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