Long gone are the days of the Big 8 Conference, which was replaced by the Big 12 Conference at the start of the 1996-97 academic school year.
But for some, it still feels natural to say the now defunct league’s name when discussing a conference that involves Kansas and Kansas State, among other schools.
Longtime Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright is one of them.
Wright, when discussing his team’s Sunday contest against Texas Tech in the Elite Eight with reporters on Saturday, let the words “Big 8” slip out of his mouth when referencing the Red Raiders’ conference — only to correct himself and immediately laugh it off.
Villanova's Jay Wright on facing Texas Tech after beating West Virginia: "Looking at another really physical Big 8 team. Big 8? Big 12, sorry. Showing my age, wow. That's going to hurt."
— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) March 24, 2018
Texas Tech was one of four Texas teams — alongside Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor — that joined the Big 8 member schools to create the Big 12 in the 1990s.
That now makes two coaches in the upcoming Texas Tech-Villanova contest who have botched a phrase surrounding the numeral 8. Chris Beard, after the Red Raiders defeated Purdue on Friday, expressed his excitement over the team advancing to the “Great Eight” rather than the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
So feel free to get all of your jokes out about the Big 8 and the “Great Eight” before it’s too late. Kansas State was facing Loyola-Chicago on Saturday and top-seeded Kansas was set to play Duke on Sunday.
Texas Tech, the third Big 12 team to advance this far, is playing in the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. Villanova is making its third Elite Eight appearance in the last 10 years. Villanova advanced to the Final Four in each of those two previous trips (2009 and 2016), winning the national championship two years ago.