The Big East isn't what it once was, with longtime mainstays like Syracuse, UConn and others having moved on to other conferences. Still, two of the four top-ranked college basketball teams in the country -- Xavier, at No. 3, and Villanova, at No. 4 -- are from the Big East, which kicked off its annual tournament on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
As it happens, the Big East has a pretty strong uniform history as well. Here's a look back at some notable uniforms from each current Big East school.
Notable uniforms from Big East schools: Butler had pinstriped shorts - but non-pinstriped jerseys - back in the early to mid-1970s. pic.twitter.com/XeF5kSlPjZ— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Honestly, Butler hasn't had any particularly notable uniforms over the past few decades. But if you go back the early 1970s, you'll find that the Bulldogs were going the unusual route of wearing pinstriped shorts with non-pinstriped jerseys. Bonus points for the gorgeous vertical arch on that chest lettering, too.
Notable uniforms from Big East schools: Back in the day - like, *way* back - NCAA teams weren't required to have front uniform numbers, as seen in this early shot of Creighton playing Marquette. pic.twitter.com/yaDZud4pfJ— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Creighton is another school that has stayed pretty traditional-looking over the past generation or two. But the Blue Jays have a proud tradition that stretches back over a century, and some of their early uniforms -- including one with an old-school "C BB" insignia -- were classics of their era.
Notable Big East uniforms: Anyone need a haircut? DePaul's barber pole striping was hard to miss in the late aughts. pic.twitter.com/rdokVrmKI4— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Call it candy striping or barber pole striping -- by any name, DePaul's bold trim in the late aughts was hard to miss.
Notable Big East uniforms: For some of us, it's impossible to envision Patrick Ewing without his signature undershirt. pic.twitter.com/QPsaqTbmiE— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Patrick Ewing wasn't the first college basketball player to wear a T-shirt under his jersey. In fact, he wasn't even the only Georgetown player to do so in the mid-1980s. But he embodied the undershirted style like no one else, and his base layer became the signature visual element for the entire team. Now that he's coaching the Hoyas, they really ought to find a way to work a T-shirt into his courtside attire. (Honorable mention to the Hoyas' kente cloth-patterned uniforms from the mid-1990s.)
Notable Big East uniforms: Marquette untucked! 'Nuff said. pic.twitter.com/7EW0mYwQIu— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Marquette has had lots of notable uniforms over the years, but nothing can touch that classic untucked design, which was such a game-changer that the NCAA eventually banned it (get the full story behind this design here). Bonus points for wearing the white jersey with gold shorts -- untucked and mismatched! Yet somehow it worked.
Notable Big East uniforms: Easy to forget that Providence wore yellow in the mid-1980s (revived as a throwback last year). pic.twitter.com/UHz8YXJT2X— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Providence has been wearing black and white (and occasionally gray) for so long that you may not realize the Friars wore yellow back in the mid-1980s. The old color scheme, which the school wore for a Final Four appearance in 1987, was revived as a throwback uniform last year.
Notable Big East uniforms: Gotta love St. John's skyline shorts, circa 1994. pic.twitter.com/4gGJmCrb5F— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Skyline patterns are a fairly common motif in basketball design. Some teams use them for courts and others for jerseys, but no team has ever incorporated them into their shorts as successfully as St. John's did in the mid-1990s. (And if you really like those shorts, they're available for sale.)
Notable Big East uniforms: They really strrrrrreeeeetched that Seton Hall lettering in the late 1990s. pic.twitter.com/OM4yFw8gKS— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Basketball players tend to be tall, so there's usually plenty of room for vertically oriented design elements. Still, Seton Hall may have taken things a bit too far with their late-1990s chest lettering, which was vertically extended to the point of absurdity.
Notable Big East uniforms: It doesn't get more stereotypically '90s than this Villanova uni from the Kerry Kittles era. pic.twitter.com/0SLp3qIwbM— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
Basketball uniforms went a little nuts in the mid-1990s -- in the NBA and also in the NCAA. A good example of that could be found at Villanova, who at one point featured a cartoonish chest font and some eye-catching shorts. Bonus points for the uni number on the shorts, and for Kerry Kittles routinely wearing one sock up and one sock down.
Notable uniforms from Big East schools: Starting in 2010, X marked the spot on Xavier's shorts. pic.twitter.com/q2QHt89K7q— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) March 5, 2018
If you're the only Division I school whose name starts with the letter X, you may as well go all in. That's what Xavier did in 2010, plastering those big X-shaped crosses on their shorts. They've since modified them to look like crossed swords, but the original solid X was the best.
Paul Lukas watched Patrick Ewing play for the Knicks for years and kept thinking, "Where's his T-shirt?" If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.