Philadelphia Big 5
Philadelphia Big 5 logo
|No. of teams||5|
|Country(ies)||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Most recent champion(s)||Temple & La Salle (2012–13)|
|Most titles||Temple (27)|
|Related competitions||A-10, Big East, and
Ivy League basketball
The Philadelphia Big 5 is an informal association of college athletic programs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is not a conference; indeed the five schools that are members of the Big 5 are members of three separate conferences: the Atlantic 10, Big East, and Ivy League.
The five universities that compose the Big 5 are the University of Pennsylvania, La Salle University, Saint Joseph's University, Temple University, and Villanova University. Four of the Philadelphia Big 5 schools are within (or mostly within) the city limits (the campus of Saint Joseph's University straddles the city's border). The fifth, Villanova, is located in a nearby Main Line suburb.
The Big 5 was formed in 1955 in order to showcase the rich basketball talent in the city and help pay for the upkeep on the Palestra, where the games historically took place. All schools agreed to split ticket and concessions revenues equally once Penn was paid for upkeep costs on the Palestra. The intense rivalries between the teams and the proximity of the schools and their fans make the Big 5 a unique tradition in college basketball.
Historically, games were played as double or triple-headers. However, it has been argued that changes in the structure of college basketball in the last quarter of the 20th century caused the Big 5 to lose much of its significance. During the heyday of the Big 5, many major college programs, especially in the northeastern United States, were independents. As the Big East and Atlantic 10 Conferences expanded to cover most of the Northeast (Villanova joined the Big East, while Temple, St. Joseph's, and La Salle joined the Atlantic 10), and as college basketball became increasingly driven by television and its need to appeal to a broad national audience, the local character of the Big 5 was a liability. The round-robin series ended in 1991.
In 1999, the Big 5 round-robin series was revived, and has continued to this day. Some things have changed from the series' heyday: the schools no longer evenly split the proceeds from the games, and La Salle, Temple, and Villanova do not always use the Palestra for their home games in the series. Nonetheless, the revival of the Big 5 provides a living link to the past of college basketball.
Each year the Herb Good Basketball Club selects All-Big 5 teams, as well as a coach of the year and the most outstanding player receives the Robert V. Geasey Trophy.
The Big 5 creed reads, "They say there is no real prize for winning the Big Five. They must not be from Philly."
There are a few intense rivalries inside the Big 5, most notably the rivalry between Villanova and Saint Joseph's, also known as the Holy War. The St. Joe's–Temple rivalry has increased in intensity in recent years, mostly because of the "Goon Gate" incident in 2005 involving former Temple coach John Chaney where he sent in a player to intentionally foul John Bryant which led to his fractured arm. La Salle considers Saint Joseph's to be its biggest rival.
As of 2012, at least one team from the Big 5 had made it into the NCAA Tournament for 35 straight years.
These games were frequently covered by legendary reporter Brendan F. Quinn.
In 2013, Temple and Villanova will change conferences. Villanova will join the rest of the "Catholic 7" in forming a new conference under the Big East name, while Temple will join the American Athletic Conference, which will retain the charter of the original Big East.
Recently there has been talk of officially including Drexel in the Big 5. These talks amplified during the 2006–07 season, as Drexel beat three of the four Big 5 teams it played, all away from Drexel's home court (Drexel did not play La Salle). Many sportswriters have called for Drexel's inclusion, and coaches of Big 5 teams have agreed. Regardless of Drexel's absence in the Big 5, it is a member of the City 6, which includes every Big 5 school plus Drexel.
Annual winners 
All Big 5 men's basketball teams play each other once per season for a total of four games per team. There is no season-ending Big 5 Tournament, so a "champion" of the unofficial athletics group is determined by a round-robin tournament. Since 1956 there have been three instances of a five-way tie among all member schools, which occurred in 1980–81 (2–2 records), 1991–92 (1–1 records) and 1997–98 (1–1 records).
|Outright Big 5 title winner|
|Shared Big 5 title winners|
|Team (#)||Denotes the total number of titles for that school at that point|
|1955–56||Saint Joseph's (1)||4–0|
|1956–57||La Salle (1)
Saint Joseph's (2)
|1958–59||Saint Joseph's (3)||4–0|
|1959–60||Saint Joseph's (4)
|1960–61||Saint Joseph's (5)||4–0|
|1963–64||La Salle (2)||3–1|
|1964–65||Saint Joseph's (6)||4–0|
|1965–66||Saint Joseph's (7)||4–0|
|1967–68||Saint Joseph's (8)||3–1|
|1968–69||La Salle (3)||4–0|
|1974–75||La Salle (4)||4–0|
|1975–76||Saint Joseph's (9)
|1979–80||Saint Joseph's (10)||4–0|
|1980–81||La Salle (5)
St. Joseph's (11)
|1981–82||Saint Joseph's (12)
|1983–84||La Salle (6)
|1985–86||Saint Joseph's (13)
|1988–89||La Salle (7)
|1989–90||La Salle (8)||4–0|
|1990–91||Saint Joseph's (14)
|1991–92||La Salle (9)
Saint Joseph's (15)
|1994–95||Saint Joseph's (16)
|1997–98||La Salle (10)
Saint Joseph's (17)
|2002–03||Saint Joseph's (18)||4–0|
|2003–04||Saint Joseph's (19)||4–0|
|2011–12||Saint Joseph's (20)
|2012–13||La Salle (11)
- "Founding of the PHILADELPHIA BIG 5". Retrieved 2008-11-27.
- "Drexel, not in the Big 5, may be Philly's best". Athlon Sports. January 3, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Drexel on top in Philly". ESPN. December 27, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- "Move Over 'Nova". The Philadelphia Citypaper. May 23, 1996. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
- University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center