Ideal College Realignment 2017 (Basketball Version)

Hello, college basketball fans!

I had created an "ideal college realignment" for college football if we can start from scratch and forget about long standing conferences and current TV deals and grant of right agreements. Since my start was in college basketball with the Schmolik 64 (final 2017 bracket) and conferences mean more in college basketball because of strength of schedule and RPI, I didn't want to leave college basketball in the dust.

I will start with the basketball/football versions of the ACC/SEC instead of the "Atlantic" and "Interior" versions. This puts Kentucky/Louisville will Duke/Kentucky and creates the premier college basketball conference in the country. Can you imagine the four of them together in the same conference? Can you imagine Kentucky and Louisville playing TWICE a year instead of once? Can you imagine them playing for the ACC Championship on Selection Sunday or Saturday in Charlotte (or Duke vs. Kentucky?) Plus Maryland is "back" in the ACC (although Syracuse is in the "Big Ten" as is Boston College). The ACC also gains the SEC's Tennessee schools including Memphis as well as Cincinnati and West Virginia but also loses Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Miami to the SEC. In terms of travel, North Carolina is the furthest south and Maryland is the furthest north while Memphis now is the furthest west.

The Big Ten gains Boston College, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Temple and loses Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska to the West and Maryland to the South. So geographically they stretch up to Boston but the furthest west would be Madison.

The SEC borders would lose the Kentucky and Vanderbilt to the ACC and Texas A&M and Missouri would go back to the Big 12 but gain Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Miami from the ACC. I'm not sure they are gains but they also have East Carolina, Central Florida, and South Florida from the AAC. Certainly without Kentucky their basketball is going to suck but at least they keep Florida (who probably is ACC level but kept in the SEC for geographic purposes) and Florida State and Miami probably will dominate the conference (Clemson will probably fit right in with the rest of the SEC). In terms of geography, it probably doesn't do too much to help them although Texas was a long trip for the Eastern schools.

In the Big 12, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M "return home", Minnesota and Iowa come from the Big Ten as does and Houston and SMU get the "upgrade" from football. West Virginia leaves for the ACC so geographically the league saves itself the trip to Morgantown but gain the trip to Minneapolis (Iowa City is basically a wash from Ames).

All four conferences save themselves geographically but some more than others.

Now to add some more power, I decided to add some of the Big East powers to some of these conferences where they geographically make the most sense:

Villanova and Butler to the Big Ten. Butler fits well with the Indiana schools (Indiana, Purdue, and Notre Dame) and Villanova fits with Temple and also is in with Penn State and Pittsburgh plus they reunite with former Big East conference members Syracuse, Connecticut, Notre Dame, and Boston College (Rutgers was for a short time). If this version of the Big Ten invited Villanova and Butler alone, Butler would certainly love to join and playing Indiana, Purdue, and Notre Dame but Villanova would be torn between rejoining UConn and Syracuse and staying loyal to Georgetown, St. John's, and their Big East brethen (Butler doesn't have the history with the Big East Villanova has). Villanova won the 2016 National Championship but was eliminated in the 2nd round in 2015 and 2017 by the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, despite #1 seeds. I feel the lack of competition in the Big East inflated their seeds and doesn't prepare the Wildcats for the NCAA while the ACC and Big Ten caused NC State and Wisconsin to be better prepared, leading them to the upsets. So if I'm Villanova, I'd make the move and I'd love to play better competition (plus I'd love to play Temple). With Villanova and Butler in the Big Ten, it would be an 18 team conference. There would be no divisions. If you assume a 20 game schedule (the Big Ten recently announced a 20 game schedule), you can play three teams twice a year. Villanova could be given Temple and two of their former Big East rivals as their three annual two plays to entice them to come.

Georgetown and Xavier to the ACC. Xavier fits right in with Cincinnati and they'd also be able to play the nearby Kentucky schools on a regular basis. Georgetown would be hard to convince out of the Big East as they have no rivals (Georgetown-Xavier have only been in the Big East together since the new Big East formed in 2013). They are placed here because of their close proximity with Maryland. On the other hand, they are in with Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, and a lot of other teams. Every time North Carolina and Georgetown play they will talk about 1982 (is that a good thing or a bad thing for Georgetown fans?). Since the ACC is also going to a 20 game schedule, they will have five two plays. Duke-Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville are obvious two plays. I think at least from the start Duke-Kentucky and North Carolina-Kentucky should be two plays as well. Cincinnati-Louisville should be because of the history from the old Conference USA/Big East and the two schools are pretty close. North Carolina-NC State is going to want to be a two play. I don't know if teams will want to two play Duke to guarantee Duke will come to their school for the money or avoid two playing Duke to avoid losing to them twice.

So the ACC and Big Ten are the "A" level in college basketball even more so that Kentucky, Villanova, and Connecticut moved up. The move means that the last nine national champions will be in either the ACC or Big Ten in college basketball (last outsider would be Kansas in 2008). In fact, since 2000, only Florida (2006, 2007) and Kansas (2008) will not be a part of the ACC or Big Ten.

So the "B" level would be the Big 12, SEC, and the Pac-12 (or as I like to call it, the "Pathetic 12" when it comes to college basketball).

In the Big 12 there are two obvious non FBS schools in their area that need to be accommodated, Wichita State and Creighton. The Big 12 will also be an 18 team conference with Wichita State probably the second best team behind Kansas, In the SEC, there are no obvious non FBS schools that need to upgrade. The three Florida schools (Florida, Florida State, Miami) will dominate the league and will probably be lucky to get a top two seed in the NCAA Tournament annually without Kentucky. The Pathetic 12 will remain unchanged in college football or basketball.

So here are the new ACC, Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12. I arranged them in columns similar to the football divisions but assume no divisions for basketball.

Cincinnati Bearcats Duke Blue Devils
Kentucky Wildcats Georgetown Hoyas
Louisville Cardinals Maryland Terrapins
Tennessee Volunteers North Carolina Tar Heels
Vanderbilt Commodores North Carolina State Wolfpack
Memphis Tigers Virginia Cavaliers
West Virginia Mountaineers Virginia Tech Hokies
Xavier Musketeers Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Big Ten
Butler Bulldogs Boston College Eagles
Illinois Fighting Illini UConn Huskies
Indiana Hoosiers Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan Wolverines Penn State Nittany Lions
Michigan State Spartans Pittsburgh Panthers
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Northwestern Wildcats Syracuse Orange
Purdue Boilermakers Temple Owls
Wisconsin Badgers Villanova Wildcats
Alabama Crimson Tide East Carolina Pirates
Arkansas Razorbacks Florida Gators
Auburn Tigers Florida State Seminoles
Clemson Tigers Georgia Bulldogs
LSU Tigers Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Mississippi State Bulldogs Miami-Florida Hurricanes
Ole Miss Rebels UCF Knights
South Carolina Gamecocks South Florida Bulls
Big 12
Creighton Bluejays Baylor Bears
Iowa Hawkeyes Houston Cougars
Iowa State Cyclones Oklahoma Sooners
Kansas Jayhawks Oklahoma State Cowboys
Kansas State Wildcats SMU Mustangs
Minnesota Golden Gophers TCU Horned Frogs
Missouri Tigers Texas Longhorns
Nebraska Cornhuskers Texas A&M Aggies
Wichita State Shockers Texas Tech Red Raiders

The AAC was decimated with most of their members getting upgrades already and they lost Wichita State now to the Big 12. Now the Big East lost Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Butler, and Creighton. This starts a domino effect in those conferences. They could raid the Atlantic 10. My picks: St. Joseph's to replace Villanova in Philly, Dayton to replace Xavier in Ohio, St. Louis in the Midwest, Duquesne picks up Pittsburgh, and my wild card is Detroit Mercy not from the A-10 but from the Horizon League (or they can take St. Bonaventure for Buffalo/upstate New York presence but I think Detroit is a more valuable market). Then the league is all Catholic again after Butler left. The A-10 is down to ten and either their number is accurate or they can go raiding, with the Colonial Athletic Association being a likely target). Ironically if the Big East picks off St. Louis it might be a favor to the Atlantic Ten since it would rid them of the long travel there (Dayton and Duquesne too). I'm surprised the Missouri Valley Conference didn't think of inviting St. Louis University after it lost Wichita State to the AAC or SLU didn't campaign for a MVC spot after there had been TWO openings in the conference after both Creighton left and after Wichita State left. They hold Arch Madness in St. Louis every year.

Finally the move I think that would make sense for college basketball and for other sports would be the Gonzaga Bulldogs joining the Mountain West Conference in all sports but football. The MWC has 12 members in football but 11 in other sports (Hawaii in football only). Gonzaga can be brought in to make it an even dozen in other sports. The Mountain West would clearly be an upgrade to the West Coast Conference in college basketball with San Diego State, Nevada, New Mexico, and UNLV having recent NCAA Tournament success (more than other WCC teams). Bringing in Gonzaga will clealy help MWC basketball which has fallen on hard times lately. It also gives the Mountain West a presence in the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, it goes the opposite to my presence of the entire article, it adds a ton of travel to the conference and to Gonzaga! Now you could add Gonzaga and San Diego State to the Pac-12 and Gonzaga fits well with the Washington pair and San Diego State with UCLA and USC. Gonzaga should be a B level or A level program and would be a mid level if not top level program in the Pathetic 12. But that messes up the nice travel pairs (Gonzaga and San Diego State would be an absolute awkward travel pair).