Conference Movement Is a Good Thing….For Basketball

Written May 25th, 2012 by Joe Dexter

Good Morning and pardon me while I completely ignore the art of filing a violation. That’s no way to start a Friday. Of course there are concerns, and it’s hard to put our trust in the Athletic Department.

But as a college basketball fan, I have bigger fish to fry.

You see, in a world full of BCS  the lore of another college sport has become lost.  Thanks to all the “players” in the political system that is division I basketball, the fan will suffer the next few seasons as the expansion of conferences now has majorly affected the smaller conferences of college basketball.

Thanks to what has now become jumptoanewconferenceapalooza to better football, institutions that take pride in their basketball programs are protecting themselves by joining mega basketball conferences.  In 2013, we’ve seen the likes of SMU, Houston, UCF, Temple and Memphis jump to the Big East.  Charlotte, FIU, LA Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and UTSA are heading to Conference USA. VCU and Butler are on their way to the new super conference; the Atlantic 10.

And everything is just a mess.

The Monarchs of Old Dominion felt that the only way to advance their football program was to jump way to early to an FBS school where it will take years to compete. What used to be unthinkable has become the norm. The NCAA no longer requires schools to prove it belongs at the highest level. Just in the upcoming year, we’ll see UTSA, Texas State, Georgia State, Charlotte and Old Dominion begin their road to become a full out member of division I football.

Though I’m not a huge fan of expansion, and sometimes I just don’t understand all the movement, I have to admit that this is a good thing for college basketball.

No, It’s not because I can relive the nostalgia of Larry Brown coaching in a top conference. Though it is intriguing. I’m not any more pumped up about North Texas basketball because they joined Conference USA.  I could care less about Houston basketball if they were a member of the Big Ten.

But putting schools like Memphis and Butler in more competitive conferences makes things interesting. Can Josh Pastner and his young talent actually survive in the Big Least? Is Butler really going to continue their run as a national powerhouse? Or will playing with some of the best mid-majors in the country drain any momentum they are holding onto from before last season?

How about Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams? He is easily one of the most polarizing young coaches in college basketball. Instantly, a conference that had lost some firepower over the past two seasons instantly becomes a basketball fan’s favorite.  VCU, Butler, Dayton, St. Louis, Richmond and Xavier are already primed to be contenders and bracket busters. UMass, St. Bonnies, Rhode Island and Duquense are on the rise.

Adding the likes of VCU and Butler gives this conference more national exposure even with Charlotte and Temple leaving the conference. And yet we will be treated to the great CAA rivalry of Old Dominion and VCU.

It’s upsetting that the best Mid-Major conference is now dead with the loss of two of it’s top schools, as well as Georgia State. But the Colonial will live on. George Mason has enough talent and good enough coaching to carry the conference with very talented programs like Drexel, Delaware, William and Mary and James Madison in the mix.

It will be interesting to see what the future of college basketball looks like. Despite being the second fiddle to the likes of college football, it seems that the state of the game is getting more competitive.

And while these mid-major programs that moved up in conference have a better chance at landing a a spot in the NCAA tournament if they don’t win their conference tourney, we still will battle seeing far too many undeserving at large teams getting a chance to play in March.

But At least there is no debate about every single little detail of how,when, where and why the basketball tournament will be played.


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