Over 3,900 days since coaching his last Big East basketball game, Rick Pitino's return to the conference will be on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, New York when St. John's hosts Xavier, according to the conference schedules that were released on Thursday.
On March 16, 2013, Pitino led Louisville to a 78-61 victory over Syracuse for a Big East Tournament championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Less than a month later, Louisville would win a national title that was vacated in 2018.
Pitino was fired by Louisville prior to the 2017-18 season but will make his return to the Big East after leading Iona to two NCAA Tournament appearances in three years before landing at St. John's last March.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller has never matched up against Pitino. Both are among the tops in college basketball history in win-loss percentage with Pitino ranking 27th (.7400) and Miller at 33rd (.7301). Pitino led Louisville to two regular-season Big East titles (2009, 2013) and three Big East conference tournament crowns (2009, 2012, 2013) in addition to taking Providence to the Final Four in 1987.
Pitino headlines new group of Big East coaches
Two other Xavier conference rivals will be led by new coaches during the 2023-24 season. Kim English was hired by Providence in March after two seasons at George Mason University. Xavier will visit Providence at Amica Mutual Pavilion on Jan. 13 and will host the Friars on Feb. 21.
English replaced Ed Cooley, the longtime Providence head coach who left his hometown school for Georgetown to replace Patrick Ewing. Georgetown comes to Cintas Center on Jan. 19 and will host the Musketeers on March 2.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Rick Pitino's return to the Big East begins vs. Xavier on Dec. 20