clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

If The Power Conferences Split

John Calipari wasn't the first to suggest that the top conferences break away and either form their own NCAA division or a new entity. For football, that's one thing. You only play a relative handful of games and as of now, the new playoff is just a four team affair.

ACC Big Ten Big 12 PAC 12 SEC
Miami Indiana Kansas UCLA Florida
Duke Ohio State Kansas State Arizona Ole Miss
UNC Michigan State Ok.  State Oregon Alabama
NCSU Michigan Iowa State Cal Kentucky
Virginia Wisconsin Oklahoma Colorado Missouri
Florida State Iowa Baylor Arizona State Tennessee
BC Illinois Texas Stanford Arkansas
Georgia Tech Minnesota West Virginia Washington LSU
Wake Forest Purdue Texas Tech USC Georgia
Clemson Nebraska TCU Utah Vanderbilt
Virginia Tech Northwestern Oregon State Texas A&M
Syracuse Penn State Wash. State South Carolina
Notre Dame Maryland Miss.  State
Louisville Rutgers Auburn

For basketball, it's a bit different. If the top conferences - ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big Twelve and PAC 12 - have either their own division or break away entirely, that severely reduces the pool of competitors. With all the comings and goings we've seen lately, we could be off, but we count 65 teams in those conferences. That's enough for a 64 team tournament with a play-in.

But there are some problems with that idea, beginning with merit.

In a 65-team division, schools like Wake, Clemson, Penn State, Rutgers, TCU and Auburn would presumably have to be included.

Moreover, consider the teams which would be excluded. There's a partial list to your right, but there are a lot of other teams which would be left out as well. You could, however, build a tournament just as interesting with teams like Temple, Georgetown, Memphis, UConn, Butler and UNLV - and you'd still have the Cinderella factor teams like Valpo and Davidson, among others, have provided.

Jay Bilas has often argued for a 64-team tournament with the best 64 teams, regardless of anything else. We're not sure that would work perfectly either, but it's a lot better than just taking the power conferences and limiting the field to those schools.

One secret of the tournament and by extension college sports in general is how a town or state or faith identifies with a team, perhaps partly because unlike pro teams, universities rarely move.

OUT ( A partial list)
  • Saint Louis
  • Virginia Commonwealth
  • Butler
  • La Salle
  • Temple
  • Massachusetts
  • Xavier
  • Charlotte
  • Saint Joseph's
  • Richmond
  • Dayton
  • St. Bonaventure
  • Rhode Island
  • Davidson
  • Georgetown
  • Marquette
  • Villanova
  • Providence
  • St. John's
  • Seton Hall
  • DePaul
  • Butler
  • Creighton
  • UConn
  • Cincinnati
  • Weber State
  • Memphis
  • UTEP
  • Tulsa
  • Marshall
  • Houston
  • Valparaiso
  • Princeton
  • Penn
  • Wichita State
  • Evansville
  • Indiana State
  • Bradley
  • New Mexico
  • UNLV
  • Wyoming
  • San Diego State
  • Murray State
  • Belmont
  • Western Kentucky
  • Charleston
  • New Mexico State
  • Gonzaga
  • Saint Mary's
  • Brigham Young
  • Santa Clara
  • San Francisco

That's obvious in the case of someone like Kentucky, BYU or Notre Dame, but it's also true for VCU, Creighton and Marshall. Marshall fans are some of our absolute favorites. They are just totally into their team. It's a mini Kentucky without the nuttier elements.

A tournament with a field that changes from year to year is better and more in touch with fans than one which stays set. We hope that no one is dumb enough to follow Calipari's suggestion without carefully considering what they'll lose.