LAST RITES: The departure of the Providence Friars and six other Catholic schools spells the end of the Big East. Photo courtesy Chris McGrath/Getty Images

If you ever wondered what the breakup of Pangea looked like, you might want to take a look at what’s going on with the Big East.

The seven schools that don’t play FBS football (that’s major college football, for the sports illiterate) voted unanimously to leave the Big East as soon as possible. With there being 15 schools currently in the conference and five others already announced to move, the Big East in no uncertain terms is virtually dead.

For college football, this doesn’t really pose a problem. None of the catholic schools leaving — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Villanova — play for bowl games. If the BCS weren’t going to be expunged, there might’ve been some automatic berth issues to iron out, but luckily the current postseason format has a grave of their own waiting.

For college basketball, though, it may complicate things a bit. For starters, what will the Big East be? No longer the super-conference that got 8 or 9 teams into the tournament each year, that’s for sure. But will the new Catholic school septet try and take the name with them? Will the lonely three programs going nowhere insist on keeping it? Or will it just cease to exist like the Bull-Moose Party?

Everyone’s assuming, by these seven schools leaving in solidarity, that they plan on staying together, most likely forming a basketball-centralized conference of their own. Maybe the other schools will now become the Little East and they’ll be the Big East. Or the Jesus East. Or just ‘Jeast’.

I’m being facetious, of course, but my point remains that, as far as conference realignment goes, this is the biggest shift yet when it comes to college basketball. If a new conference is formed, they’ll almost undoubtedly have to be given an automatic berth for their season champion which will take away an at-large bid from someone else. Could such a move be the final brick in paving the way for a 96-team March Madness field?

The new conference would immediately become a tour-de-force in college basketball, as well. Of the ‘Catholic 7’, as they’re being called, four schools made the tournament last year or the year before and no one in the pack has gone longer than eight years without an invitation.

The Big East, as it’s currently assembled, leads all conferences in tournament berths with 374, but 159 of those belong to the seven schools leaving. Those schools also take away from the conference three of the seven programs that have won a national title. And that doesn’t even begin to count all the wins and titles the other five schools leaving sometime in the future — Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers, and Notre Dame — will be taking with THEM.

You see where I’m going with this Pangea metaphor?

Now, admittedly, it doesn’t work perfectly. Schools like Louisville and Syracuse aren’t just leaving, but joining other “continent” conferences, namely the ACC. Okay so maybe the already-established ACC will be like North America and the four Big East defectors will be Central America. Syracuse is probably the biggest, they can be Mexico.

From an organic perspective, it makes perfect sense. Aren’t cells perpetually growing and dividing? Perhaps the Big East just got too big for its own good and this move was nothing short of necessary. Or maybe not NECESSARY, but definitely welcomed.

One thing’s for sure: college basketball’s super-continent is breaking apart, and the world of college basketball has permanently changed.

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NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NCAA basketball updates and other shenanigans!