We’ve said it here before and it couldn’t be more painfully obvious: all the realignment chatter has nothing to do with basketball.
But since this is a basketball site and we are basketball-crazed, we look at the realignment madness from a basketball slant.
The Big 12 will first have to convince itself and others that it will stabilize for a period of time. If it does and the schools play nice, adding Louisville to the mix would be a huge boost for the basketball profile of the conference.
Louisville, in my estimation, would immediately become the second-most accomplished and prestigious basketball program in the conference. Clearly Kansas is the top dog, and even Missouri fans couldn’t deny that.
This is what the Cardinals bring: 37 NCAA tournament appearances, which is good for fifth all-time and ahead of Duke and Indiana.
But they’ve cashed in those appearances with eight Final Fours and most importantly two national championships. Only 35 schools have won a national championship, and only 14 of those have won it more than once. Louisville is one of them.
Oklahoma State would be the closest competition to the “coveted” title of the Big 12 Basketball Blog’s second-most accomplished program in the Big 12. The Cowboys also have two national championships. But Louisville has 13 more NCAA’s and 100+ more total wins, along with with two more Final Four appearances. Additionally, although the Cowboys have been competitive in the past decade, Louisville has been better by winning a Big East title and appearing in the 2005 Final Four.
The Big 12 has some programs which are trending upwards but don’t have a boatload of history in Texas and Baylor (Texas A&M is too but nowadays we’ll mention them as little as possible…just joking…kind of). And in the case of Texas, they could be a sleeping basketball giant considering their resources, recent development of NBA players and increasing popularity of their brand in the state of Texas.
The more exposure Longhorn basketball gets (as it presumably would with the infamous Longhorn Network), the more all those Texas athletes will choose basketball over football. But then again the same increased exposure argument could be made for football too. Still, Texas has potential to vault itself into a different basketball-strata, but as of the present it is not on the same level as Louisville.
Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas State are all solid programs with decent history, but none of them rise to the level of Louisville, mainly because none have won a national championship.
Louisville may not be in the “blueblood” class of Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke. But they certainly are in the next group of great programs, with teams like Indiana and Connecticut. Adding them to the Big 12, at least for basketball purposes, would be fantastic.