In the realm of college basketball as a topic for discussion, there are two prevailing varieties of categorical abhorrence that I not only don’t share but frankly don’t understand. My fellow participants in the discussion can usually be relied upon to categorically abhor the spectacle of borderline draft prospects leaving school early, and to be likewise appalled by conference realignment.
The ACC’s addition of Louisville is a particularly succinct declaration of difference. The oh so snooty Big Ten would never open its door to an institution at Louisville’s level academically, but the ACC is wagering, no doubt correctly, that Keats will still be read and discussed with tolerable lucidity by freshmen in rarefied cloisters like Durham, Chapel Hill, and Charlottesville, even if Rick Pitino does come around once a year or so.
In the 439 days since the ACC announced that it was adding Syracuse and Pitt, an already strong basketball league has become ridiculously excellent. Conversely the Big East, to use a regionally appropriate metaphor, has done a pretty fair imitation of an MTA station in the path of Sandy.
Let’s measure the wages of realignment according to the number of NCAA tournament games that realigning teams have won since 2000. “Realignment” here means this latest two-year-and-counting shuffle, starting with Nebraska joining the Big Ten, Colorado fleeing to the Pac-12, etc., right up through yesterday’s news.
The Decline of the East
NCAA wins since 2000 (net gain/loss) ACC +33 Big Ten +17 SEC +15 Pac-12 +5 Big 12 -4 Big East -49
To this point realignment’s been powered by teams extracted from the Big East in more or less the same way that industrialization was fueled by coal extracted from Appalachia. And today the Big East looks about the way coal country looks.
Of course realignment isn’t over, so I’ll keep this tally current as further events unfold.