Conference realignment has been the primary talking point for college sports fans during the summer months, and for good reason: USC and UCLA’s decision to join the greener pastures of the Big Ten put the rest of the conferences (outside of the SEC) on notice.
The Gonzaga to Big East rumors notwithstanding, basically all of the conference realignment chatter revolves around the NCAA’s biggest moneymaker: college football.
But what if it didn’t?
That’s the question Isaac Schade, the host of the Locked on Tar Heels podcast, and myself attempted to answer on Friday’s crossover episode of Locked on Zags.
Isaac and I each drafted a 12-team super-conference where the only sport that matters is men’s basketball. Of course this isn’t a realistic exercise, but we wanted to see how the priorities would change if football was taken out of the equation.
Indeed things did look quite a bit different. Programs like Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, LSU, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin all got left on the sideline while programs with less powerful football teams (or no football teams) were hot commodities.
Isaac started with North Carolina and I started with Gonzaga to keep things fair, and a coin flip live on the air meant Isaac received the first pick.
Below is a look at how each of the conferences ended up. Who did we miss? Who should we not have taken? Who went too early? And, most importantly, whose conference is “better?”
Check out the write-up and vote in the poll below!
My conference: Gonzaga, Duke, UCLA, Baylor, Michigan St, Arizona, Ohio St, Syracuse, Florida, Oregon, Houston, Tennessee
I was surprised Isaac didn’t go with Duke first overall, allowing me to snag them and create a cross-continental rivalry with the Blue Devils. I went with plenty of west coast teams as well, however, securing three Pac-12 programs in UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon while also adding traditional powerhouse programs like Michigan State, Ohio State, and Syracuse and newer bloods like Baylor and Houston.
Isaac’s conference: North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova, Indiana, UConn, Michigan, Louisville, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia
Isaac’s conference is more blue blood and less new blood, although he snuck in an up-and-coming Arkansas program toward the end of the draft. It’s really hard to go wrong with Kentucky/Kansas/Villanova, and while Indiana and Louisville aren’t at the top of their game these days it is hard to imagine they will be down for too long.
If you want to listen to the full episode for a breakdown of each pick, as well as a look at which teams were left off, click below or follow this link.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.