Realignment Conferences 23 Through 18

These conferences, in terms of average strength, are probably about where the current MAAC or Horizon League are down to the Patriot League.

The New Yorker Conference (NYC)

School Former Conference
Albany America East
New Hampshire America East
UMass-Lowell America East
Fairleigh Dickinson NEC
Sacred Heart NEC
Hofstra Colonial
Iona MAAC
NJIT Atlantic Sun

If you’re a fan of Iona or Hofstra you’re probably looking at this conference and thinking, huh? But in terms of men’s basketball expenses these schools are relatively close together. Then there is no denying the geographic or academic fit. The question would be other sports. UNH plays football and ice hockey at a quite competitive level. The Wildcats went 8-5 on the gridiron last season. Hofstra, Iona, FDU and NJIT don’t even field a team. But hey, neither does UML and they play in America East with UNH right now. So that would obviously have to be sorted out. But it seems workable. There are some really good mid-major basketball schools here, which is why this conference might be higher rated than you’d expect on name recognition alone. This is also a way better fit for NJIT than the Highlanders’ current situation in the Atlantic Sun.

The Mid-Atlantic Conference

School Former Conference
Niagara MAAC
American Patriot League
Canisius MAAC
Drexel Colonial
Wagner NEC
Saint Francis U. NEC
Mount St. Mary’s NEC
Monmouth MAAC
Rider MAAC

The logic for this conference is undeniable. The Buffalo schools continue to have their rivalry and Monmouth and Rider are re-united with some of the schools they left behind in 2013 and 1997 respectively. The biggest gripe would probably come from American fans, as the Eagles are now the best academic school in their conference. Though they may also be the worst at basketball. (Priorities.) The geography could work for everyone, as the Buffalo schools, SFU, MSM and American provide a nice arc branching out from the conference’s New Jersey base. This is one of my favorite new groupings that the algorithm produced.

The Midwest Conference

School Former Conference
Youngstown St. Horizon
UMKC WAC
Chicago St. WAC
Eastern Michigan MAC
Fort Wayne Summit
IUPUI Summit
Nebraska-Omaha Summit
Northern Illinois MAC

Quite honestly, this is a group of midwestern schools who just don’t have that much fan support in terms of attendance at basketball games. Chicago State would definitely struggle to be competitive in this league, but that’s probably true of any conference that was based in the midwest instead of the far-flung WAC.

The West Coast Conference

School Former Conference
San Francisco West Coast
San Diego West Coast
Cal Poly Big West
Santa Clara West Coast
Denver Summit
UC Santa Barbara Big West
Saint Mary’s West Coast
UC Irvine Big West
Pepperdine West Coast
UC Davis Big West
Seattle WAC
Portland West Coast
Loyola Marymount West Coast
UC Riverside Big West

Considering every school but Denver is almost literally on the West Coast the name seemed to fit still. Denver is an outlier here in a lot of way, but all the other institutions are completely defensible. Saint Mary’s fans may be frustrated¬†that BYU and Gonzaga have moved up in the world, but those institutions are in a completely different stratosphere in terms of men’s basketball and overall athletics spending. Instead the Gaels would have a chance to be the class of this revised conference.

The Cumberland Conference

School Former Conference
Morehead St. Ohio Valley
Eastern Kentucky Ohio Valley
Austin Peay Ohio Valley
Radford Big South
Oral Roberts Summit
Arkansas St. Sun Belt
Lipscomb Atlantic Sun
Northern Kentucky Horizon
Southeast Missouri St. Ohio Valley
UT Martin Ohio Valley
N.C. Central MEAC
Chattanooga Southern

North Carolina Central spends way more on athletics than your average MEAC program and the algorithm certainly picked up on that fact, as it lifted the Eagles into a completely different level of program. The competition here would be fierce. Interestingly, this conference is mostly strong Ohio Valley stalwarts and a number of up-and-coming athletics programs like N.C. Central. Northern Kentucky moved to Division I in 2012 (as a member of the Atlantic Sun). Oral Roberts would be the biggest spender on men’s basketball in this conference, so traveling east from Oklahoma wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The Fun Belt

School Former Conference
UTSA Conference USA
Texas State Sun Belt
Florida Atlantic Conference USA
New Mexico State WAC
North Texas Conference USA
Grand Canyon WAC
Georgia State Atlantic Sun
FIU Sun Belt
Florida Gulf Coast Atlantic Sun
Southern Miss Conference USA
Stephen F. Austin Southland
South Alabama Sun Belt
Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt
Louisiana Tech Conference USA

We are starting to move into conferences with real money invested in college athletics and this collection of teams, which stretches the country’s southern border from Phoenix to Miami, is the first sign of it. This conference is a much more logical place for schools that have outgrown their current conferences, like Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast and Grand Canyon. This is also the first conference whose members could put together a credible¬†at-large bid resume. Though it’d still be an outside shot. Football is also starting to creep into picture. Texas State might be a surprise, but the Bobcats actually have the biggest overall athletic budget of any school in this conference.