Break out the moving boxes: Looking at changes to college basketball's fluid conference landscape

Mike Huguenin
Yahoo! SportsJuly 19, 2012

Realignment has hit college football in a big way the past two seasons. But all those moves are nothing compared to what is taking place in college basketball.

There are 31 Division I conferences, and 16 have changed their membership from last season, including the Big East, Big 12 and SEC. The Pac-12 underwent realignment last season and the ACC and Big East will undergo change next season, meaning the Big Ten is the only one of the "Big Six" leagues not to have membership changes in the three-year stretch.

The biggest makeover this season will occur in the Western Athletic Conference, whose changes involve a staggering eight schools. The Southland Conference moves involve four schools, and the Mountain West's and Summit's each involve three. Five leagues have two changes, and seven conferences are adding or subtracting one school.

Here's a closer look at all the moves. And take notes, as there will be a quiz later.


Comings and goings: No changes

America East

Comings and goings: No changes

Atlantic 10

Comings and goings: Two additions – Butler from the Horizon and VCU from the Colonial
Membership: 16 teams (Butler, Charlotte, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU, Xavier)
Buzz: A strong league becomes even stronger with the additions of Butler and VCU. This now is the best conference outside of the Big Six – and one that should annually receive at least four bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Atlantic Sun

Comings and goings: One addition (Northern Kentucky, from the Division II ranks) and one subtraction (Belmont, to the Ohio Valley)
Membership: 10 teams (East Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Mercer, Northern Kentucky, North Florida, South Carolina Upstate, Stetson)
Buzz: Belmont's departure hurts; it was the league's marquee program. Northern Kentucky was a good Division II program, but it likely will take a while for the Norse to become a league contender.

Big East

Comings and goings: One subtraction – West Virginia has moved to the Big 12
Membership: 15 teams (Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse, USF, Villanova)
Buzz: The 2012-13 season will be the last time the Big East unquestionably will be the best basketball league in the country. Pitt and Syracuse will be in the ACC starting in 2013-14; the Big East will have (or at least hope to have) 18 teams that season, but the additions of Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF won't come close to making up for the loss of Pitt and Syracuse.

Big Sky

Comings and goings: Two additions – North Dakota (from the Great West) and Southern Utah (from the Summit)
Membership: 11 teams (Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, North Dakota, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah, Weber State)
Buzz: At least when this league expands, it does so with geography in mind. North Dakota has been a Division I program for just three seasons. Southern Utah has had just four winning records in its 19 seasons as a Division I member, but it does have a cool nickname (Thunderbirds).

Big South

Comings and goings: One addition – Longwood from the independents ranks
Membership: 12 teams (Campbell, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Liberty, Longwood, Presbyterian, Radford, UNC Asheville, VMI, Winthrop)
Buzz: Another league that makes total sense geographically, the Big South features schools in just three states (four each in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia).

Big Ten

Comings and goings: No changes

Big 12

Comings and goings: Two additions (TCU from the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East) and two subtractions (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC)
Membership: 10 teams (Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia)
Buzz: Losing Missouri and its rabid fan base hurts, and Texas A&M had become a solid program. WVU brings an East Coast swagger and should immediately become an annual contender. But TCU is nowhere near ready to compete at this level.

Big West

Comings and goings: One addition – Hawaii from the WAC
Membership: 10 teams (Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Pacific, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara)
Buzz: Hawaii hasn't done much in the WAC, but could become a bigger player in the Big West. But not this season.


Comings and goings: One subtraction – VCU to the Atlantic 10
Membership: 11 teams (Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Georgia State, Hofstra, James Madison, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Towson, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary)
Buzz: Losing VCU is a body blow. And this will be the final season for ODU in the league; that hurts, too. The good news is that George Mason looked into leaving but decided to stay.

Conference USA

Comings and goings: No changes


Comings and goings: One subtraction – Butler to the A-10
Membership: 9 teams (Cleveland State, Detroit, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola (Ill.), UW Green Bay, UW Milwaukee, Wright State, Valparaiso, Youngstown State)
Buzz: Butler had become the poster boy for mid-majors, and the Bulldogs' departure is a huge loss. Still, there are some solid programs, most notably Cleveland State, Detroit, UW Milwaukee and Valpo.


Comings and goings: No changes

Metro Atlantic Athletic

Comings and goings: No changes


Comings and goings: No changes

Mid-Eastern Athletic

Comings and goings: No changes

Missouri Valley

Comings and goings: No changes

Mountain West

Comings and goings: Two additions (Fresno State and Nevada from the WAC) and one subtraction (TCU to the Big 12)
Membership: 9 teams (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming)
Buzz: Nevada has enjoyed a nice run of success of late, while Fresno State has been good in the past. Both have more basketball tradition than TCU.


Comings and goings: No changes

Ohio Valley

Comings and goings: One addition – Belmont from the Atlantic Sun
Membership: 12 teams (Austin Peay, Belmont, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, SIU-Edwardsville, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, UT Martin)
Buzz: Belmont is a big addition; the Bruins have become one of the best low-major programs in the nation. In addition, Belmont, which is in Nashville, adds a geographic rival for Austin Peay, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.


Comings and goings: No changes


Comings and goings: No changes


Comings and goings: Two additions – Missouri and Texas A&M from the Big 12
Membership: 14 teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt)
Buzz: Missouri's addition is a good one. Mizzou becomes one of the three "basketball schools" in the league, and visiting the Tigers will make for one of the toughest road trips in the conference. Texas A&M's addition isn't nearly as important, though the Aggies do have a legitimate program now, which hasn't always been the case.


Comings and goings: No changes


Comings and goings: One addition (Oral Roberts from the Summit) and three subtractions (Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State to the WAC)
Membership: 10 teams (Central Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Oral Roberts, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi)
Buzz: What the league lost in geographic fit (three Texas-based schools left) it more than made up for in basketball prowess. Oral Roberts was the best program in the Summit and should quickly ascend to the top of the Southland as well.


Comings and goings: One addition (Nebraska-Omaha from the independent ranks) and two subtractions (Oral Roberts to the Southland and Southern Utah to the Big Sky)
Membership: 9 teams (IPFW, IUPUI, Missouri-Kansas City, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota State, Oakland, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Western Illinois)
Buzz: ORU's departure means the league has lost its best program. Nebraska-Omaha will be in just its second year of Division I basketball and has a long way to go.

Sun Belt

Comings and goings: One subtraction – Denver to the WAC
Membership: 11 teams (Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky)
Buzz: Denver was an OK program, but no one is going to miss that road trip. The geography is a much better fit now.

Southwestern Athletic

Comings and goings: No changes

Western Athletic

Comings and goings: Five additions (Denver from the Sun Belt; Seattle from the independent ranks; and Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State from the Southland) and three subtractions (Fresno State and Nevada to the Mountain West and Hawaii to the Big West)
Membership: 10 teams (Denver, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Seattle, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Utah State)
Buzz: Losing Nevada hurts, as no program of near that stature is coming in. Then again, the WAC's No. 1 concern was remaining viable as a league.

West Coast

Comings and goings: No changes

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