The ACC comes out on top as basketball teams find new homes
ACC member Syracuse. Sound strange, doesn’t it? About as strange as a Big East with Creighton among its members.
Try to fight it, both are true.
This is a time for college basketball fans to either celebrate or hang their heads. Most of the conference realignment moves for the upcoming season have taken effect this month.
It’s no secret football is driving all these moves, so there are a fair amount of losers on the basketball side. But a few basketball programs and leagues will be big winners.
Related: College football's Top 15 winners in realignment
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REALIGNMENT WINNERS
Adds: Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville (2014-15)
Loses: Maryland (2014-15)
The ACC loses a charter member in Maryland in 2014-15, but the league should retake the mantle of the nation’s top basketball conference by the time Louisville joins the league in 2014-15. Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino groused about the demise of the Big East, but Mike Krzyzewski said the new-look league could be the best conference in history. There’s little reason to disagree with Coach K. With Louisville and Syracuse facing Duke and North Carolina on a regular basis, the league should liven up the regular season. And those are just the powerhouse programs: Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are NCAA Tournament regulars, Florida State and Miami are new players on the scene, and NC State has expectations to be in that first tier.
Related: Tracking every change in basketball realignment
The Catholic 7
Adds: Basketball-only clout, Butler, Creighton and Xavier
Loses: Traditional rivalries with Syracuse, Connecticut; the tradtional Big East Tournament
No one wanted to see the old Big East call it a day, but the league sprouting up in its place could be one of the more top-to-bottom competitive leagues in the country. For the seven Catholic schools, they emerge out of the shadow of the FBS football schools. The assumption is that Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova will be able to maintain their current level of success, but this is also good news for Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul, who won’t be buried in a 16-team behemoth of a conference. The old Big East was built by television partnerships, and perhaps the new one will as well. The new Big East could get first-class broadcast treatment on Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery calling games.
Adds: Membership in the Big East
Loses: Easy path to NCAA Tournament
Just two years ago, Butler was in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs have traded Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Milwaukee and Detroit for Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, St. John’s and Xavier. The Butler of the last seven seasons should have no trouble competing on that level, but the question is if the Bulldogs will continue to commit the resources to compete long term.
Adds: Nevada and Fresno State (2012-13), Utah State and San Jose State (2013-14)
Loses: TCU (2012-13)
The Mountain West has been steadily rising for years now. It has arguably been the best conference out West for the last few seasons. New Mexico and UNLV continue to be the flagship programs of the league while Colorado State, San Diego State and Boise State have become factors over recent years. The depth of the league will be improved if Nevada (2012-13) and Utah State (2013-14) return to form.
Adds: BYU (2011-12), Pacific (2013-14)
Saint Mary’s has been a challenger for Gonzaga for the last six years, and BYU has been in the league for two seasons. The WCC boosted its depth by adding Pacific from the Big West. Pacific won last year’s Big West Tournament and made three consecutive NCAA bids from 2004-06.
Adds: Maryland, Rutgers (2014-15)
The Big Ten was a top league and remains so. But the Big Ten could be a big winner if Maryland returns to national power status and if Rutgers finally figures out this basketball thing. The other 12 Big Ten teams could win big if expansion opens them to recruit New York and Maryland/D.C. with more regularity.
Adds: Missouri, Texas A&M (2013-14)
What the SEC needs more than anything is more programs to regularly challenge Kentucky and Florida. Missouri likes to think of itself that way, but the Tigers went 11-7 in their first season in the league.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REALIGNMENT LOSERS
Adds: VCU (2012-13), George Mason (2013-14), Davidson (2014-15)
Loses: Butler, Charlotte, Temple, Xavier
The idea of George Mason and Davidson in the Atlantic 10 may bring good memories to basketball fans, but these aren't the same programs with Jim Larranaga and Stephen Curry. The A-10 loses its two flagship programs in Temple and Xavier. It needs VCU and another team — UMass? Saint Louis? La Salle? Dayton? Richmond? — to maintain more consistency.
Adds: Loyola Chicago
The Missouri Valley will miss Creighton, a consistent program that packed its arena on a nightly basis. But let’s not go overboard with the Bluejays. Before Doug McDermott arrived, Creighton had played in the NCAA Tournament just twice in six seasons. The MVC adds Loyola just as the coach who made the program viable took the Siena job.
Adds: Charleston (2013-14), Elon (2014-15)
Loses: VCU (2012-13), George Mason, Georgia State and Old Dominion (2013-14)
The little mid-major that could is no more. Realignment decimated the league like few others. Programs that have won six of the last seven CAA Tournaments are now gone, including two programs (VCU and George Mason) that reached the Final Four in that span. In their place are two programs that haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament this century.
Adds: Charlotte, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UTSA (2013-14), Western Kentucky (2014-15)
Loses: Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF (2013-14), East Carolina and Tulane (2014-15)
The latest round of realignment doesn’t hurt as much as the last one. The league once boasted Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis, but C-USA will be without a clear bell cow by 2014-15.
Adds: Membership in the Big 12. Trips West of the Mississippi
Loses: The Big East, short road trips
Making road trips into Texas and Oklahoma from Morgantown is a little more excusable when they’re four or five Saturdays in fall. Nine times during basketball season is a different story. Moreover, West Virginia is cut off from East Coast recruiting, important to consider when the foundation of its Final Four team in 2010 was from New York.
Connecticut, Memphis and Cincinnati
Adds: Membership in the American Athletic Conference. Road trips to SMU, Tulane, East Carolina
Loses: Top conference status
Limitations in their football programs mean these basketball powers were left behind during realignment. UConn hoped for an ACC invitation that never came, and now the Huskies are cut off from traditional rivals Syracuse and Georgetown. Memphis waited and waited to get Big East membership and when it came, the league changed its name and many of the Tigers’ old neighbors came along for the ride. At least Memphis fans get to see UConn come to town instead of Tulane. On the court, UConn’s and Memphis’ ability to maintain their recruiting might will be tested.
Adds: Northern Kentucky (2012-13)
Loses: Belmont (2012-13), East Tennessee and Mercer (probably)
Florida Gulf Coast was the story of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but in the long term the Atlantic Sun will miss Belmont (who left for the Ohio Valley last season) and East Tennessee (who likely leaves for the Southern) more. Either Belmont or ETSU represented the A-Sun in the NCAA Tournament every year from 2006-12.
Adds: A slew of Division I independents
Nevada, Utah State and New Mexico State aren’t powerhouses, but they kept the WAC full of consistent mid-major programs. The 2013-14 lineup includes: Cal State Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Seattle, UMKC, UT Pan American, Utah Valley.