We’ve reached the beginning of the best that college basketball has to offer in terms of spending, attendance, etc. Our first “Power Five” conference team appears in conference 12.
The Atlantic 12
|George Washington||Atlantic 10|
|Saint Joseph’s||Atlantic 10|
It is a little that surprising that Boston College is the first “Power Five” team to be placed into a conference. (I would’ve expected Rutgers.) But it should be noted that the Eagles are here because of incredibly lackluster attendance. They would be by far the biggest spenders in basketball and overall athletics in this conference. Fordham has started to spend a bit of money on its athletics program since hiring Jeff Neubauer. That, plus strong academics and good geography, help the Rams hold onto a plum spot in the pecking order. Butler is probably too good for this conference, but as a basketball only school the Bulldogs are constrained in just how far they can move up the food chain.
Editors Note (May 15, 2017): You may be wondering where Butler is on this map. It turns out the Bulldogs were inadvertently placed in Butler, PA in the analysis that I ran on May 2. I’m not sure how this impacted the final results, but for the sake of transparency with the process I wanted to bring it to people’s attention. Butler’s location is correct in the final Github.
This is basically a mashup of the American and Conference USA, which makes complete sense given the membership of both conferences. Liberty, which spends quite a bit on college athletics, takes a huge jump in terms of conference prestige. UNLV has spent time in the Big West, WAC and now Mountain West, so moving to this group, besides the fact that it’s based on the eastern half of the country, isn’t unreasonable.
The Great Lakes Conference
|Green Bay||Horizon League|
|Illinois State||Missouri Valley|
|George Mason||Atlantic 10|
This conference has a strong Midwest base with the confusing additions of Siena (Albany, NY) and George Mason (Fairfax, VA). Strong attendance is probably the reason that Siena ended up in this conferennce. The Saints also spend quite a bit on college basketball, and expect success. George Mason is in a similar boat, in fact the Colonials are the biggest spender on men’s basketball of anyone in this group. It’s an odd fit, but—considering this would be one of the premiere mid-major conference in college basketball, maybe not the worst.
The American Conference
|Missouri State||Missouri Valley|
|Southern Illinois||Missouri Valley|
|Rhode Island||Atlantic 10|
|Colorado State||Mountain West|
Yes, I know that none of these teams currently play in the conference of the same name, but this group, which spans from Kingston, RI to Laramie, Wyo. certainly deserves the moniker. This is the final mid-major conference in college basketball. All of these programs have the money in their basketball budget to travel. If Duquesne improves on the court under Keith Dambrot there would be no easy outs.
From here on out geography will become less and less of a factor as men’s basketball and overall budget along with fan support (i.e. attendance) completely change the game. That’s how Rutgers and Missouri end up in what would ultimately be an impossible situation. Not sure what you should do with them.