Designing a Dream Conference Built for College Basketball
Hello, college basketball fans!
If you've read some of my previous articles, you know how sick I am that college football is calling all the shots in the NCAA.
Because of college football, Butler (who made the last two NCAA championship games) is stuck in a mid-major conference where if they lose in their conference tournament they may miss the NCAA's altogether. Meanwhile, Nebraska, a school who has NEVER won an NCAA Tournament game, gets to join the Big Ten.
Over in the Big East (at least that's what they call it), they invite bad basketball schools from Texas as full members instead of Butler (same state as Notre Dame), Xavier (same city as Cincinnati), or Temple (who is an Eastern team and who actually has a football team that is going to a bowl game this year).
Meanwhile, Connecticut is waiting for the ACC phone to ring to get them out of the future mid major league formerly known as the Big East before they have to make long trips to Texas and have their RPI sink 20 points for just walking in (in addition to the current trips to dead weights like DePaul and South Florida).
You let football in charge when they can't even put together a playoff system?
So this proposal is sort of my fantasy college basketball league. I take the best college basketball teams East of the Mississippi River and put them all together.
That way, Connecticut doesn't have to play SMU, Michigan State doesn't have to play Nebraska or Northwestern, and Kentucky doesn't have to play all those lousy SEC Worst division schools.
It also gives schools like Butler a chance to play top opponents rather than a bunch of schools no one has heard about.
My "conference" has 39 teams which will be split into four divisions, three divisions of 10 teams and one division of nine. The teams were chosen by past NCAA Tournament performance. Teams in all divisions will play double round robin instead of in leagues of 14, 16, or however many teams the Big Least wants.
The conference will be named the Schmolik Basketball Conference (or SBC for short).
The four divisions, in order of strength:
The Champions Division
The Stars Division
The Contenders Division
The Next Division
I think the names are a little better than Legends and Leaders.
SBC Champions Division
Kentucky and North Carolina twice a year? Count me in!
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Without a doubt, the cream of the crop of college basketball in the East. Seven of the nine schools have won at least one national championship since 2000. The other two, Kentucky and Wisconsin, have won 21 and 18 NCAA games, respectively, in the NCAA's since 2000. Every team east of the Mississippi River that has won an NCAA championship since 1990 is in this division (Michigan won the title in 1989).
The travel will be tough but there is a huge difference between traveling long distances to play great teams and traveling long distances to play awful RPI-killer teams. In addition, no teams will have to cross the Mississippi to play games.
SBC Stars Division
Can Butler hang with the big boys?
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These teams have the next highest number of NCAA Tournament wins since 2000.
Notice that there are three teams from non BCS conferences (Butler, Memphis, and Xavier) on the list.
The travel in this conference is a little lighter than the Champions Division since there are no Northeastern teams and the team farthest south is Memphis.
You have three current Big Ten teams and four current (before Pittsburgh and West Virginia leave) Big East teams. Xavier and Butler can form a rivalry. Louisville and Memphis can renew theirs. Also, Xavier can match up with the best basketball team in the state, Ohio State.
SBC Contenders Division
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No one on this list is a known basketball power and none of these teams have won a national championship since Indiana in 1987.
Still, the schools have had some success in basketball since 2000 (Georgetown, Marquette, Indiana, Georgia Tech, and LSU have made at least one Final Four).
SBC Next Division
The Big East Doesn't Want Them, But the SBC Does
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The cutoff for the SBC was four NCAA wins since 2000. One Final Four is enough to get you in the club. George Mason and VCU have won five NCAA games each.
The division has six teams from non BCS conferences and three SEC teams (I guess all SEC teams aren't bad).
The teams here aren't at Duke/North Carolina (or even Butler) level. But they could be who's "next" in college basketball.
Missed the Cut
The Wolverines have hit some bad times
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BCS Conference Teams That Won 1-3 NCAA Games Since 2000
ACC: Miami, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Big East: Seton Hall, St. John's, DePaul
Big 10: Penn State, Michigan, Iowa
SEC: Missouri*, Texas A&M*, Auburn, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia
*- Qualify based on performance but are west of the Mississippi River
These teams have had some good years but have struggled to win (or in some cases even make the NCAA Tournament) since 2000.
Should Give Up Basketball Altogether!
Believe it or not, Nebraska has a basketball team!
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BCS Conference Teams That Have Not Won One NCAA Game Since 2000:
Big East: Providence, South Florida, Rutgers, Central Florida*, Houston*, SMU*
Big Ten: Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska
SEC: South Carolina
*Proposed Big East members
South Florida, Rutgers, Central Florida, Houston, Northwestern and Nebraska have not won any NCAA Tournament game since 1985. Nebraska has never won an NCAA game and their last NCAA appearance was 1998. Northwestern has never even made the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, the NCAA expansion is about football, but the Big Ten added one of the worst basketball teams in the United States. Nebraska is also a geographical outlier and the smallest state by population in the Big Ten.
The football team was worth taking but the Big Ten should've done like Boise State and invited only Nebraska's football team (and their women's volleyball team as well).
Over in the Big East, they have passed on Temple several times and invited five members (six if you include TCU) that have not won an NCAA game since 1985. Three of these teams are in Texas. Two are in Florida.
They also invited DePaul, who is now one of the worst Big East teams and is far away from the Northeast.
This is why I hate the Big East. They were a great basketball league but decided to compromise their basketball for the sake of football. They are planning to invite Boise State for football only; why not Houston and SMU for football only?
The Future of the SBC
Hopefully Pitino Can Join a Basketball Conference
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Assuming that the SBC comes to plan, I would allow teams to move up (or down) the SBC ladder. If a team is getting beaten almost every game in one division, they may be able to move down. On the other hand, you can have teams move up a division as well.
I would say every four years we would examine the divisions to see if any teams are out of place. It would be like European soccer or Davis Cup.
The biggest challenge will be the Next division. Virginia Commonwealth had a terrific year but could they keep it up over a long period of time and facing better competition? Maybe in the next four years, there will be another VCU and the SBC will want to add them.
I would like to keep the SBC at most 40 teams (four divisions of ten) so teams can play a double round robin and establish rivalries.
Of course this will never happen, but I (and basketball fans) can dream.