Seth Davis: What’s next in conference realignment? College basketball mailbag

BleedGopher

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per Seth:

What does Texas/OU do for SEC basketball? It kind of seems like a step down for the basketball programs, unlike a step up for football. The Big 12 seems to have benefited with the new members. — Jay S.

How much does joining the MVC raise Belmont’s ceiling? Is there any concern they go from co-owning the OVC to a middle of the pack team? — Dan B.

The addition of Belmont to the MVC creates an unbalanced league with 11 teams. Murray State always comes up as the next most logical school to even it out. Will it be them or someone else? — Darren R.

At what point is the WCC too weak for Gonzaga, now that BYU is leaving? Do they reconsider the MWC offer now? — Ken L.

Any chance the Big East expands in the near future? — John F.


Allow me to knock these out of the park in rapid-fire fashion, like Juan Soto at a home run derby:

  • There is no doubt that Texas and Oklahoma will improve the SEC’s basketball profile. Chris Beard has already provided a huge jolt for the Longhorns, and he has yet to coach a game there. Both are still “football schools,” but they are regular qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament. That’s not something you can say for more than half the schools in that league.
  • The Big 12 did well to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, but make no mistake, losing Oklahoma and Texas was a huge blow. I also think the Pac-12 will regret not finding a way to add BYU during this latest round. As Julia Roberts said to that snooty sales lady in “Pretty Woman:” Big mistake — huge!
  • Belmont’s move to the Missouri Valley Conference surprised me, and frankly I see a lot of downside. I’m sure the financials make sense, but it’s an odd fit considering Belmont, which is in Nashville and will start competing in the Valley next fall, will be the only school in that league not located in Illinois, Iowa or Indiana. That leads me to think that Murray State could follow suit, which would not only bring aboard Belmont’s biggest rival but also increase the Valley’s foothold in the south. Alas, this move underscores how difficult life is for mid-major leagues these days. The Ohio Valley has traditionally been a fantastic basketball conference, but Belmont is the fourth school to skedaddle this year.
  • BYU’s departure from the WCC definitely alters Gonzaga’s calculation. Gonzaga’s big obstacle to changing leagues is not the basketball program’s dominance of the WCC so much as the fact that Gonzaga has not had a football team since 1941. That would be a non-starter with the Pac-12, but I see no reason why the Mountain West couldn’t find a way to make this work. Just have Gonzaga compete in every sport except football. Easy peasy. Gonzaga is in the unusual position of being able to sustain a national brand in the WCC, but once conference season gets underway the Zags fall off the map. That will be even more true without BYU on the schedule.
  • Finally, I don’t see the Big East expanding anytime soon. The schools in this league have a very specific profile — small, private, Catholic, no Division I football (UConn being the notable exception). The only prominent school that fits that bill is Loyola Chicago, but I doubt DePaul would approve. Who else even comes to mind as remotely plausible? Temple? St. Bonaventure? Saint Joseph’s? Would any of those really move the needle?

Go Gophers!!
 

Some guy

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If st Thomas had their way they be part of the long term Missouri valley expansion plans

I don’t see it though
 





jovs

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Why isn't Gonzaga considering the Big East other than travel distances, could they join it for basketball only.
 

Gopherfan84

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Why isn't Gonzaga considering the Big East other than travel distances, could they join it for basketball only.
Why would they need too? They recruit top kids, make plenty of money, and get 1 seeds playing in the crappy WCC.
 

bizzle22

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Why would they need too? They recruit top kids, make plenty of money, and get 1 seeds playing in the crappy WCC.
Not sure if they’ll actually make a move, but I’d bet they look around. The WCC set up a special scheduling arrangement to try to get more NCAA tourney bids based on prior year NET rankings, prior year conference tournament seeds, and a survey of coaches. That initiative was largely driven by Gonzaga’s leadership. Without BYU it becomes much less realistic for the WCC to get multiple teams in the NCAA tournament. Obviously they’d be a basketball-only addition to any league with football. I’d wonder if the Mountain West would be amenable to such an agreement. Big East could be a tough sell without a travel partner, but the matchups would be great.
 

Fleckoff

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If st Thomas had their way they be part of the long term Missouri valley expansion plans

I don’t see it though
I would think because of the football ties NDSU and SDSU would make a lot of sense for that league. More so NDSU because Fargo/Moorhead area would be a big enough market for that league
 



Gopherfan84

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Not sure if they’ll actually make a move, but I’d bet they look around. The WCC set up a special scheduling arrangement to try to get more NCAA tourney bids based on prior year NET rankings, prior year conference tournament seeds, and a survey of coaches. That initiative was largely driven by Gonzaga’s leadership. Without BYU it becomes much less realistic for the WCC to get multiple teams in the NCAA tournament. Obviously they’d be a basketball-only addition to any league with football. I’d wonder if the Mountain West would be amenable to such an agreement. Big East could be a tough sell without a travel partner, but the matchups would be great.

Yeah I could see them flirt with the MW. I just don't think they are too desperate to build their brand by going to the Big East. Big East is a nice fit obviously because of the no football, but I think they still want to continue to be on the West Coast. The Gonzaga charm isn't that charming to me anymore and I'd love to see them have tougher match ups nightly.
 

60's Guy

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Travel, pretty much locks them into where they are. The time, the cost to fly across country would get very old quickly. They get their automatic conference bid. The smaller the conference the closer they are to an independent schedule with plenty of high power non conference schedule opportunities. Yet, they are in a conference with the advantages it offers.
New coach and some conference opponent can rise up too.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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The WCC now only has 2 non-Catholic schools (Pepperdine-Churches of Christ & Pacific-Methodist)

The of the other schools in the conference, 4 are Jesuit, and one each of Holy Cross, De La Salle, and one not in an order (just Roman Catholic).
 

Herd

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I would think because of the football ties NDSU and SDSU would make a lot of sense for that league. More so NDSU because Fargo/Moorhead area would be a big enough market for that league
The private schools in the MVC are pretty convinced that football is evil and anywhere called Dakota is the end of the earth. Valpo is their idea of a good add.
 



jovs

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The school that fits the Big East profile the best along with recent success is Dayton, what it doesn't do is expand the conferences reach and market share, Xavior not wanting Dayton would be similar to Depaul not wanting Loyola.
 




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