In honor of March Madness, I decided to create a fictional bracket of the Elite Eight candidates of Big Ten expansion.
Like the NCAA bracket, the seedings and selections may be a tad controversial, but who cares—I don't see your Big Ten expansion bracket!
Big East Bad Boys
Starting in the East, we have the No. 1 overall seed, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, going up against the underdog Pitt Panthers. Strength in football and basketball gives the Panthers all the makings of pulling off an upset.
Unfortunately, dollar signs and the New York City television market lift the Knights to the next round.
Texas remains the surprise of the tournament given their dominance over the Big 12 and far distance from the Great Lakes states of the Big Ten. Syracuse enters with the right history, a strong basketball program, and a longstanding relationship with the conference.
The Orange take down the Longhorns, who probably didn't care to be in the running anyway.
Big 12 Bruisers
The Huskers and Tigers are two teams hungry for a shot at the big time.
Nebraska and its Sea of Red have all the makings of attention and skill the Big Ten has come to be known for throughout the years. Both teams are unhappy about the corporate Texas-dominated culture of the Big 12, but Mizzou advances with stronger vocal interest, the loudest of which is from the state's own governor.
Coach Kelly's Crew
No bad blood between these programs, right? Brian Kelly dropped the Bearcats like a deadbeat dad.
Cincinnati may be revved up, but don't let that fool you—Notre Dame isn't interested in this silly tournament, are they? The Irish's interest to remain independent is strong, but they'll be damned if they aren't included in any further conversation.
Rutgers beats Syracuse in the Battle of the Big Apple.
Missouri over Cincinnati for program reasons.
In an extremely close battle, Mizzou upsets heavily favored (with financial incentives) Rutgers to become the 12th team of the Big Ten plus two Conference.
The Big East will survive as an automatic qualifier conference, and the Big 12 will easily find a replacement.
Missouri also brings a conference championship game and millions of dollars to the Big Ten family.