If you are from the northeastern part of the United States and are a basketball fan, you know what the Big 5 is. It isn’t a recognized college basketball conference, but don’t tell citizens of Philadelphia that.
The Big 5 is made up of five teams in the Philadelphia metropolitan area: Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Temple, and La Salle. The teams have met every season since the 1955-56 season and competed for a “league” championship.
For the 2015-16 season, they will be bringing back an old tradition. According to College Basketball Talk, that “old tradition” is The Palestra, a historic arena in Philadelphia that was home to Big 5 games, hosting a doubleheader between four of the teams.
For the Big 5’s sixtieth anniversary, it will be happening again. On January 20, La Salle will host Temple and Penn will host Saint Joseph’s with both games taking place in The Palestra.
“The Athletics Directors wanted to do something very special to celebrate this unique achievement,” Big 5 Executive Director Steve Bilsky said in a release. “We thought nothing would capture its history better than a competition to be held in the famed Cathedral of Basketball. The fact that we were able to pull it off in a very challenging college basketball scheduling environment is a credit to the AD’s, coaches, and conference commissioners, all of whom displayed tremendous perseverance and flexibility.”
The last time a doubleheader took place in The Palestra was in December 2004. There were actually three separate games that took place inside the historic arena with Temple beating Villanova, Penn taking care of La Salle and Saint Joseph’s falling to Drexel. Drexel did not play Division I basketball when the Big 5 was formed, but it is also a school within the Philadelphia city limits.
All five teams within the organization have had a taste of the Big 5 championship, both shared and outright. Temple has won the most championships with twenty-seven. Villanova has won the last two and is second with most championships with twenty-three, while Saint Joseph’s has won twenty. Penn and La Salle have yet to eclipse the twenty championship mark with thirteen and eleven respectively.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports