Which schools are the best candidates for expansion into the Big 12 Basketball Conference?
As another academic calendar year begins, a few changes take place in the college athletics universe. We welcome four new colleges to Division 1 athletics, while also witnessing as several change programs their conference allegiances. While we haven’t seen a major realignment movement since the beginning of the last decade, Connecticut’s return to the Big East is certainly large enough to raise some attention.
In the previous cycle, there was plenty of intrigue, as schools like Louisville, Maryland, and West Virginia swapped power conferences. In time, these revolutions through the conferences take place for reasons greater than the on-field performance. While programs like Butler, Creighton, and Xavier built their way into the Big East, the movements between power conferences were far more unique. The dissolution of the old Big East spearheaded much of the movement, but surely we aren’t headed towards another event like this?
It’s unknown when the next major domino will fall in conference realignment, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it came from the Big 12. In the last decade, the conference has seen some significant changes, losing Colorado to the Pac-12, Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, and Nebraska to the Big Ten while also adding TCU and West Virginia. At just ten current members, the Big 12 remains a talent-filled power conference for both basketball and football, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the league expand in the near future.
We’re going to consider imminent realignment scenarios for the Big 12 and focus on the five programs that are the most realistic additions the conference can make right now. Obviously, these moves would not go into effect until at least 2021, but we will still consider their recent successes in the flagship sports. Program history and geography will also play a significant role, though the addition of West Virginia has shown that geography isn’t the biggest priority.
Without further ado, let’s start running through the candidates for expansion, starting first with a number of honorable mentions who just missed the cut.