None of the recent changes in proposed or actual college conference realignments have had anything to do with basketball. Not even one. In fact, Kansas, one of the leading basketball programs, came perilously close to being relegated to the scrap heap.
Hard to fathom in parts of the country where the following for basketball closely resembles the most fanatical of cults, with an intensity among its frenetic followers that rivals that of some hardened fundamental and radical groups.
Brendan Prunty, of the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, envisions a realignment that would merge the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences into what he convincingly argues would be the best basketball conference in the nation while also being a respectable football league, as follows:
Big Atlantic Conference
NORTH — Boston College, UConn, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Temple, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, St. John’s and Maryland.
SOUTH — Wake Forest, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Louisville, Central Florida, South Florida, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Memphis.
Under this scenario, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. John’s would be basketball-only schools. Miami, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech would have joined the SEC, and Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh would have gone to the Big Ten.
The Triangle Hoops Journal, a North Carolina-based blog, has endorsed the concept, noting:
The “Big Atlantic Conference” would be a respectable football conference and would provide sufficient opportunities for the member schools to compete at the highest level.Â More importantly, it would remain true to the history and tradition of the basketball-centric ACC and Big East by creating perhaps the best college basketball conference imaginable …
State, Duke, UNC and Wake would get to play each other twice each regular season.Â Traditional rivalries in each league would be respected and promoted …
Imagine a conference tournament arranged as follows:Â The South division plays two rounds in Greensboro, the North in Madison Square Garden.Â The four semi-finalists from each division would then play out the tournament in Greensboro or the Garden, alternating each season.
Gotta love the name, The Big Atlantic Conference. However, the South division of the tournament would have to be played in the new 22,000-seat state-of-the-art arena in Louisville. And Notre Dame would not be pressured into playing conference football, enjoying a great new home for its other sports.
This lineup is one that makes a lot of sense and would generate a highly profitable television network, assuring that basketball remains a major power player on the college athletic landscape.