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Big East MBB – Preseason Preview & Projection 2021-2022

If you’re just starting to pay attention to Big East hoops again (or any college sports for that matter), there are 2 game-changing NCAA rule updates to note for the 2021-2022 season:

  1. All athletes who were eligible during 2020-2021 were granted an unprecedented additional year of eligibility due to Covid. So, all players that were eligible to play last year have 5 total years of NCAA eligibility.
  2. All athletes this year (and going forward indefinitely) are now allowed a 1-time penalty free transfer. So, players will no longer have to sit out a year to be eligible to transfer among D-1 schools as in years past. Thus, the transfer portal was especially spicy this year.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get into the preseason preview and projection!

Projected Big East MBB Standings:

  1. Villanova
  2. Xavier
  3. St. Johns
  4. UConn
  5. Seton Hall
  6. Butler
  7. Providence
  8. Creighton
  9. Georgetown
  10. Marquette
  11. DePaul

Projected NCAA Tournament Outlook for the Big East:

  • One Seed Potential – Villanova
  • Locks – Xavier, St John’s, UConn
  • Bubble – Seton Hall, Butler
  • Better Luck Next Year – Everyone Else

Big East Team Projections

1. Villanova

Departures:

  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F – NBA
  • Cole Swider, F – Transfer to Cuse
  • Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree F – Medical retirement, sat out all of 20-21 with injury
  • Kyle Neptune, AC – New Fordham HC. Neptune was Nova’s longest tenured Assistant

Returners/Additions:

  • #3 Big East Recruiting Class (by average recruit ranking) – Freshman are not listed individually as they’re largely unknown quantities at the college level at this point
  • Collin Gillespie, G – Returning extra-year senior
  • Jermaine Samuels, F – Returning extra-year senior
  • Justin Moore G
  • Jermaine Samuels F
  • Caleb Daniels G
  • Brandon Slater F
  • Eric Dixon F
  • Bryan Antoine G
  • Chris Arcidiacono G
  • Trey Patterson F

The kings of the New Big East remain so until someone takes their crown. They lost in the Big East Tournament last year (without Gillespie and Moore) but they did win the regular season. Robinson-Earl left for the NBA, but with Gillespie and Samuels returning for another go around the rest of the Big East will probably have to wait at least another year before attempting to usurp the crown. However, aside from Gillespie, Samuels, Moore and Caleb Daniels there is not a lot of experience for Jay Wright’s squad. No one aside from those 4 averaged 4 or more ppg last year .  If the team fails to fill in around the big 4 or there are key injuries Gillespie and Samuels may find themselves wishing that they didn’t come back for that 5th year of play.

2. Xavier

Departures:

  • C.J. Wilcher G –  Transfer to Nebraska
  • Bryan Griffin F – Pro
  • Jason Carter F – Senior Transfer to Ohio U
  • Daniel Ramsey F – Transfer to Tenn Tech

Returners/Additions:

  • KyKy Tandy G – Opted out of Transfer Portal
  • Paul Scruggs G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Nate Johnson G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Jack Nunge F – Transfer from Iowa
  • Jerome Hunter F – Transfer from Indiana
  • Zach Freemantle F
  • Colby Jones G
  • Adam Kunkel G
  • Dwon Odom G
  • Ben Stanley F
  • Danny Ramsey F
  • Dieonte Miles F

The Musketeers floundered down the stretch last season and missed the NCAAT entirely but that seems more due to untimely and lengthy Covid pauses more than anything else. X gets a boon in returning extra-year seniors in Scruggs and Johnson, Iowa transfer Nunge, and Tandy opting to return back to the fold. Zach Freemantle is the Big East’s co-Most Improved Player and earned 2021 Second Team All Big East honors along with Scruggs. Colby Jones also earned a spot on the Big East Freshman Team last year. The Baseline Times also expects Dwon Odom to improve upon his stellar 20-21 campaign and earn Big East Sixth Man of the Year honors. This squad should be deep and experienced – no excuses for Head Coach Travis Steele if he can’t get it done this year. This probably means a top 3 finish in the Big East and at least a 7 seed in the NCAAT. Winning the Big East tournament or regular season would not hurt either. Anything less than the above and Steele’s seat will be as hotter than a $2 pistol. 

3. St. John’s

Departures:

  • Rasheem Dunn G – Senior Transfer to Robert Morris
  • Greg Williams Jr G – Transfer to ULL
  • Marcellus Earlington G/F – Transfer to USD
  • Josh Roberts F – Transfer to Manhattan
  • John McGriff G – Transfer to Binghamton
  • Vince Cole G – Transfer to Coastal Carolina
  • Isaih Moore F – Transfer to Southern Miss
  • David Caraher G – Departed team early last season

Returners/Additions:

  • Aaron Wheeler F – Transfer from Purdue
  • Stef Smith G – Transfer from UVM
  • Joel Soriano F – Transfer from Fordham
  • Montez Mathis G – Transfer from Rutgers
  • Esahia Nyiwe F – Transfer from Texas Tech
  • Julian Champagnie F – Elected not to go to NBA Draft
  • Posh Alexander G
  • Dylan Addae-Wusu G
  • Arnaldo Toro F
  • Aremios Gavalas G

The Red Storm lost almost all of their leading players from last year except for Champagnie and Posh. But those are the two who matter most as Champ was All Big East First Team in 20-21 and Posh made the Freshman Team and also named co-DPOY. If St John’s had returned those two plus most of the rest of their squad, they might have been battling Nova for control of the Big East. However, HC Mike Anderson did bring in some impact transfers in Wheeler, Smith, Soriano, and Mathis so they don’t slide far. In fact, these incoming transfers may be even better than the players they lost but there is something to be said about continuity and development in a system. So, the Johhnies could be feast or famine this year. If the team gels and the role players fit in around Champ and Posh they could be sitting very pretty. If not, it could be a long season in Queens.  Basketball is a game of star power and the Johnnies boast two of the 7 or 8 best players in the league.  I think this ends up as a banner year for the Johnnies. 

4. UConn

Departures:

  • James Bouknight, G – NBA
  • Josh Carlton, F/C – Senior Transfer to Houston
  • Branden Adams, G – Transfer to George Washington
  • Javonte Brown-Ferguson C – Transfer to Texas A&M, did not play in 20-21
  • Kevin Freeman AC – Stepping down from on-court coaching role to an admin role to spend time with family.

Returners/Additions:

  • Big East’s #2 Ranked 2021 Recruiting Class (#1 by avg recruit ranking)
  • Luke Murray AC – Son of Bill Murray but a talent in his own right. Coached under Hurley at URI and Wagner.
  • R.J. Cole G
  • Tyrese Martin G
  • Isaiah Whaley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Tyler Polley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Adama Sanogo F
  • Jalen Gaffney G
  • Andre Jackson G
  • Akok Akok F
  • Richie Springs F
  • Andrew Hurley G

The Huskies suffer the biggest single player loss on this list in G James Bouknight to the NBA. Last year, when they had to play without Bouk they were barely a .500 team… but this will likely help the squad this year as they’ve already had to adjust to life without last year’s star. Whaley returning for another year is huge for UConn as he is the reigning Big East co-DPOY and they need his size, depth, experience, and versatility (nicknamed the Wrench). Sanogo was named to the Big East All Freshman Team and expects to make an even bigger jump in his sophomore season. Fellow Soph Andre Jackson is freak-of-nature athletic and also expected to make a jump. Cole and Martin were transfers last season that seemed to find their stride with the team and the conference as the season progressed. If Junior C/F Akok Akok can return to his 2019 form from achilles injury and their terrific recruiting class can contribute, UConn should find itself in the upper echelon of the Big East once again.

5. Seton Hall

Departures:

  • Sandro Mamukelashvili F – NBA
  • Shavar Reynolds G – Transfer to Monmouth
  • Takal Molson G – Transfer to JMU

Returners/Additions

  • Jamir Harris G – Transfer from American
  • Kadary Richmond G – Transfer from Cuse
  • Alexis Yetna F – Transfer from USF
  • Myles Cale G
  • Jared Rhoden G/F
  • Ike Obiagu C
  • Tyrese Samuel F
  • Bryce Aiken G
  • Jahari Long G
  • Tray Jackson F

After Bouknight and UConn, Seton Hall losing Mamu is likely the second biggest single player loss in the Big East. Jared Rhoden looks to be the next man up leading the Pirates in a one-man wrecking crew linage that seems to go Myles Powell-Mamu-and now to Rhoden. Myles Cale will play Robin to Rhoden’s Batman and defensive stalwart transfers Yetna and Richmond look to make a big impact in their first year in the Big East. Richmond in particular, has been getting hyped up as an incredibly cerebral defender who can fill out a stat sheet. Obiagu still anchors the defense and provides elite rim protection. The Pirates will be long, tough, and exceptionally hard to score on. Expect a lot of slug fests out of this squad.

6. Butler

Departures

  • JaKobe Coles – Transfer to TCU
  • Markeese Hastings F – Transfer to WMU but opted out of most of 20-21 season.

Returners/Additions

  • Ty Groce F – Transfer from Eastern Michigan
  • Chuck Harris G
  • Aaron Thompson G
  • Jair Bolden G
  • Bryce Nze F
  • Bryce Golden F
  • Bo Hodges G
  • Myles Tate G
  • Myles Wilmouth F
  • John-Michael Mulloy F
  • Christian David G

Butler is certainty the most experienced team in the Big East, maybe the most experienced team in the entire country from top to bottom. Of the eight returners/incoming transfers who expect to see significant playing time, six are seniors (five of whom are redshirt seniors). Heck, at this rate the Bulldogs rotation might be older on average than the OKC Thunder who have an average age of 23.5. The one starter who is not a senior, Chuck Harris, was their best scorer last year as a freshman and potentially their best player in 21-22. Aaron Thompson is the team leader and facilitator, averaging 4.7 apg and all of the starters have the ability to average 10+ ppg. Butler battled with health issues last year but if they have better luck in that regard and Harris takes a step forward like expected LaVall Jordan’s squad will be in the hunt for an at-large bid.

7. Providence

Departures

  • David Duke G – NBA
  • Greg Gantt F – Transfer to NC State
  • Jimmy Nichols F – Transfer to VCU

Additions/Returners

  • Aljami Durham G – Transfer from Indiana
  • Justin Minaya F – Transfer from South Carolina
  • Nate Watson C – Extra year senior
  • Noah Horchler F – Extra year senior
  • A.J. Reeves G
  • Jared Bynum G
  • Alyn Breed G
  • Brycen Goodine G
  • Ed Croswell F

Ed Cooley’s squad got a huge lift when C Nate Watson decided to return for an extra year. He made a leap to almost 17 ppg in 20-21, from less than 10 ppg in 19-20. Al Durham also transfers in from Indiana averaging 11 pts, 3 rebs, and almost 3 asts per game in the Big Ten. The change of scenery should do him good, and I expect him to continue or improve that production in the Big East. He won’t fill David Duke’s shoes but AJ Reeves and Jared Bynum should be able to shoulder more of the load after another year of development.  The Friars ceiling appears to a middle of the pack finish in the Big East and perhaps one of the last few into the dance. However, Prov is always a tough out.

8. Creighton

Departures:

  • Marcus Zegarowski G – Pro
  • Mitchell Ballock G – Pro
  • Denzel Mahoney G/F – Pro
  • Christian Bishop F – Transfer to Texas
  • Damien Jefferson F – Pro

Returners/Additions:

  • #1 Recruiting Class in the Big East and #7 class in the country
  • Ryan Hawkins F – Transfer from D-II SW Missouri State
  • Keyshawn Feazell F – Transfer from McNeese State
  • Shereef Mitchell G
  • Ryan Kalkbrenner F/C
  • Alex O’Connell G
  • Rati Andronikashvili G – Medical redshirt
  • Modestas Kancleris F – Medical redshirt

The Bluejays are the youngest and least experienced squad in the Big East this year. Having lost the vast majority of their production from last year, they don’t have a player who has averaged 6 or more points in P6 play. They do bring in transfers Hawkins and Feazell who averaged 22.6 and 13.1 ppg in lesser leagues. Kalkbenner will be Creighton’s best player and premier rim protector this year. On the flip side, Coach McDermott brought in a heck of a recruiting class, the best ever in their history. It is 5 players deep, 4 of which are in the top 75 players in the 2021 class: Arthur Kaluma, Trey Alexander, Mason Miller, and Ryan Nembhard. In addition, the Bluejays get another highly touted recruit back who missed all of last year due to injury in Andronikashvili. Those 5 in fact represent the 5 best recruits that have ever signed with Creighton. The future looks bright for McDermott’s squad but this year will bring some growing pains for Creighton’s version of the Fab 5.

9. Georgetown

Departures:

  • Jahvon Blair G – Pro
  • Jamorko Pickett F – NBA G League
  • TJ Berger G – Transfer to San Diego
  • Qudus Wahab C – Transfer to Marlyand
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Jalen Harris

Returners/Additions:

  • Kaiden Rice G – Transfer from The Citadel
  • # 1 Recruit in the Big East this year
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Donald Carey G
  • Dante Harris G
  • Jalen Harris G
  • Timothy Ighoefe C
  • Collin Holloway F
  • Jamari Sibley F
  • Kobe Clark F
  • Malcolm Wilson C

Patrick Ewing had the Hoyas rolling at the end of last season. You likely know that they won the BET but you may not know that they went 10-5 to end the season with losses only to tournament teams (Nova, Creighton, UConn x2, and Colorado). Unfortunately, Georgetown lost its three most productive players from that team in Pickett, Blair, and Wahab. I expect Sophomore Dante Harris to make a leap forward this year and transfer Rice averaged 17.6 ppg for the Citadel last year. The Hoyas figured to have the services of EKU transfer Tre King but news just broke last week that he will not be with the team, a major blow for their 2021-22 season.  Georgetown didn’t bring in an overall top recruiting class but they did land the top incoming recruit in 5 star shooting guard Aminu Mohammed (there is also a familiar name in 4 star center Ryan Mutombo).  So, Ewing will have a squad to get into shape but it will be tough to replace the lost production entirely. If Ewing can get them rocking like the end of last year – look out. However, if the team doesn’t gel it could get ugly.

10. Marquette

Departures:

  • Steve Wojciechowski HC – Fired
  • Dawson Garcia F – Transfer to UNC
  • D.J. Carton – Pro
  • Theo John F – Transfer to Duke
  • Koby McEwen G – Transfer to Weber State
  • Jose Perez G – Transfer to Manhattan
  • Jamal Cain F – Transfer to Oakland

Returners/Additions:

  • Shaka Smart, HC – Hired from Texas (Before he could be fired from there)
  • Darryl Morsell G – Transfer from Maryland
  • Tyler Kolek G – Transfer from George Mason
  • Kur Kuath F – Transfer from Oklahoma
  • Olivier-Maxence Prosper F – Transfer from Clemson
  • Justin Lewis F
  • Greg Eliott G
  • Oso Ighodaro F

Shaka Smart arrives in from Texas to replace the ousted Wojo. He inherits a squad with a lot of roster turnover and lacking the best players from last year’s Golden Eagles squad in Garcia, Carton, and John. He did have success in bringing in some bigtime transfers in Morsell, Kolek, Kuath, and Maxence Prosper. It also feels like this job is a more natural fit for Smart as a Wisconsin native. He is at the helm of more of an upstart, scrappy bunch rather than the number one athletic department by revenue in the country. This is a role he thrived in at the helm of the VCU Rams.  I feel like Shaka will get the Marquette magic rolling but it will take him a few years to really contend in the Big East.

11. DePaul

Departures:

  • Dave Leitao HC – Fired
  • Romeo Weems – Pro
  • Pauly Paulicap – Transfer to WVU
  • Charlie Moore G – Transfer to Miami
  • Ray Salnave G – Transfer to UMBC
  • Kobe Elvis G – Transfer to Dayton
  • Darious Hall F – Transfer to Central Arkansas
  • Keon Edwards – Transfer to Nebraska

Returners/Additions:

  • Tony Stubblefield HC – Former Asst Coach at Oregon
  • Jalen Terry G – Transfer from Oregon
  • Brandon Johnson F – Transfer from Minnesota
  • Tyon Grant-Foster F – Transfer from Kansas
  • Philmon Gebrewhit G – JUCO Transfer
  • Yor Anei F – Transfer from SMU
  • Javan Johnson F – Transfer from Iowa St.
  • Javon Freeman-Liberty G
  • Nick Ongenda F
  • Courvoisier McCauley G
  • David Jones G/F

The Tony Stubblefield era begins in Chicago.  Dave Leitao didn’t leave the cupboard completely bare but Stubblefield had to rely on bringing in a litany of transfers.  He succeeded in bringing in others from P6 or other high-major schools.  Javon Freeman-Liberty ran the show for the Blue Demons last year (avg more than 14 ppg), we will see what Stubblefield brings to stylistically to Chicago.  He has a good pedigree and many years of experience as a long time assistant at Oregon.  He seems like a man who is up to the task of turning things around for DePaul but time will tell.


Check Out the Baseline Times’ Projected Big East Year End Awards

Majors, Mid-Majors, & Low-Majors: Defining College Basketball Conferences

Let’s set this straight once and for all. There are 3 levels of D1 college basketball conferences: Majors (aka High-Majors), Mid-Majors, and Low-Majors.

Many people think there are only 2 designations (majors and mid-majors) and that all non Power 6 conferences are mid-majors. Those people are wrong. This is just like a fast food place offering medium, large, or extra-large drinks. We all know that is a lie and the sizes are: small, medium, and large no matter how big their cups are.

So, let’s make this real simple and settle this. We will use average number of NCAA Tournament bids per year as the defining metric as that is easily quantifiable and well known. There are far more scientific metrics we can use but the fact of the matter is that the college basketball world defines conferences by the number of March Madness bids they are able to earn in a given year. See the definitions and conferences below.

Majors – Numerous Bid Conferences

Definition: Conferences that send 4 or more teams to the NCAA Tournament per year on average (evaluated within a 5 year period). I settled on 4 bids as the cut off as this is double the mid-major requirement. This means generally that a conference had at least 4 teams within the top 44 in the country in that 5 year timespan.

Qualifying Conferences: B1G, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12, Big East, AAC.*

Mid-Majors – Multi Bid Conferences

Definition: Conferences that send between 2-3 teams to the NCAA Tournament per year on average (evaluated within a 5 year period). This means generally that a conference has 2 or 3 teams within the top 44 (depending on seeding) in that 5 year timespan though it is very possible that these conferences have an auto-qualifier (AQ) that pulled an upset.

Qualifying Conferences: A10, MWC, WCC, MVC.*

Low-Majors – Single Bid Conferences

Definition: Conferences that send only 1 team to the NCAA Tournament per year on average (evaluated within a 5 year period). These are usually AQ teams only.

Qualifying Conferences: All others.

Notes

  • A team can be very good, or elite even, and play in a mid-major or low-major conference (Gonzaga for example in the WCC). This is a conference wide designation and does not have a bearing on any individual team in that conference.
  • A conference can raise or lower its status with performance or by schools joining/leaving the conference.
  • I chose to evaluate this in 5 year time periods as that is the length of time in which you would expect a full recruiting class to process all the way through to graduation (factoring in red-shirts, medical issues, etc.).
  • *The conference size rule* – I am equalizing conferences of varying size by seeing how many bids would be expected if the conference had 16 teams. To do this, I multiply their average tournament bids by 16/their # of conference members. I’m using 16 as the cutoff here as the new SEC will have 16 teams so that seems like a good limit for conference size (the old Big East had 15 basketball schools fwiw). If we move to super conferences in the future we will have to adjust this formula.
  • The AAC and all of the mid-majors aside from the A10 (which has 14 teams) would not have qualified for their current designations without the 16 team conference multiplier but it doesn’t seem fair to penalize smaller conferences and to reward large conferences with a hard line. See the below sheet for the last 5 years for applicable conferences.

Conference2021
Bids
2019
Bids
2018
Bids
2017
Bids
2016
Bids
Avg # of Bids# of TeamsMultiplierExpected Bids in a
16 Team Conference
AAC243243111.454.35
A10223332.6141.142.96
WCC221211.6101.62.56
MWC222111.6111.452.32
MVC211121.4111.452.03
There was no NCAAT in 2020, as we all know 🙁


Conference Realignment Endgame

It seems that we are on decades long conference realignment carousel. Every few years (whenever media deals are soon to expire) the strongest conferences smell blood in the water and gobble up the best schools from whichever conference is on its way out. The Big East (football version) died at the beginning of the 2010s, the Big 12 has started its slow death with the recent news of Texas and Oklahoma departing, and the ACC looks like it will be next unless they can make significant changes before their media deal expires in 2036.

But all of this just seems so trite. Like any moves that are made now temporary. All that really matters is the war to come, the endgame for the control of college sports. This article will attempt to explore the two plausible scenarios in that endgame. First, there are two important things to note about this going forward:

1. Football is King

Football generates the vast majority of revenue for college athletic programs, so all of these realignment decisions are based on football. In making these decisions, no one cares about basketball or any other sport. Sorry college basketball blue bloods, ask UConn how much it mattered to have arguably the second best men’s basketball program of the decade during the last round of realignment (and inarguably the best and most profitable women’s CBB program of all time).

More than that, recent wins and success do not necessarily matter as much as the program’s brand value. These conference decisions are being made based on how much money can be brought by a program into a conference (OU & Texas project to increase the SEC’s annual media payout from a bit under $50 million to roughly $60 million per school). The SEC was happy to add OU for the additional payout while providing a top notch team to compete against, but they are absolutely licking their lips for Texas who is bringing them tens of millions in extra revenue and providing easy wins for the SEC’s upper echelon.

2. Streaming is the Future

The second thing to remember is that traditional TV will be dead and new media/streaming will take its place. In the recent past, conference realignment decisions were largely made around media deals that would bring in more viewership due to media markets (Ex. Rutgers and Maryland bringing the NYC and DC media markets to the BIG). Rutgers and Maryland weren’t the strongest college sporting brands nor did they have massive recent football success but they were ideally geographically positioned. None of these things mattered as they could get the B1G Network on NYC and DC area cable packages and B1G games on NYC and DC area broadcast TV. That will matter less and less in the future.

In a few decades when this conference realignment endgame comes about, location will matter less. Conferences will not care about city media markets quite as much or oversaturating one state with several conference members. Much more paramount will be the total number of fans that a school has and thus the amount of revenue that they bring to the conference.

For these reasons, there is undeniable consensus that there will be a further realignment and consolidation in college sports. There is just too much money involved for this not to come about. The only question is will it be one super league or two mega leagues. Let’s explore both scenarios.

Scenario One: Two 15ish Team Mega League(s)

Take a look at this chart. These are the 30 most valuable athletic departments (relying mostly on football program data) as of the 2018-2019 season. I used data from this year as the Covid shortened 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons were not typical. For the blended value, I calculated the mean of a valuation for the total Athletic Department Revenue (based on 5 times revenue) and the Football Program Value.

#SchoolCurrent ConferenceAthletic Dept Revenue 2018-20192018-2019 Football Program ValueBlended Total Revenue & Football Value
1TexasBig 12 (Soon to be SEC)$223,879,781$1,100,000,000$1,109,699,453
2Ohio StateBig 10$210,548,239$1,060,000,000$1,056,370,598
3MichiganBig 10$197,820,410$930,000,000$959,551,025
4AlabamaSEC$164,090,889$1,010,000,000$915,227,223
5GeorgiaSEC$174,042,482$890,000,000$880,106,205
6Notre DameIndependent Football/ACC$169,547,625$910,000,000$878,869,063
7OklahomaBig 12 (Soon to be SEC)$163,126,695$890,000,000$852,816,738
8LSUSEC$157,787,782$850,000,000$819,469,455
9AuburnSEC$152,455,416$870,000,000$816,138,540
10Texas A&MSEC$212,748,002$540,000,000$801,870,005
11TennesseeSEC$143,765,903$730,000,000$724,414,758
12FloridaSEC$159,706,937$630,000,000$714,267,343
13Penn StateBig 10$164,529,326$520,000,000$671,323,315
14WisconsinBig 10$157,660,107$470,000,000$629,150,268
15IowaBig 10$151,976,026$460,000,000$609,940,065
16South CarolinaSEC$140,695,659$460,000,000$581,739,148
17NebraskaBig 10$136,233,460$470,000,000$575,583,650
18ArkansasSEC$137,497,788$460,000,000$573,744,470
19WashingtonPac 12$133,792,677$440,000,000$554,481,693
20Florida StateACC$152,757,883$290,000,000$526,894,708
21Michigan StateBig 10$140,010,865$350,000,000$525,027,163
22KentuckySEC$150,435,842$270,000,000$511,089,605
23OregonPac 12$127,508,498$350,000,000$493,771,245
24ClemsonACC$133,861,515$300,000,000$484,653,788
25USCPac 12$118,687,120$330,000,000$461,717,800
26MinnesotaBig 10$130,456,454$270,000,000$461,141,135
27Arizona StatePac 12$121,698,840$300,000,000$454,247,100
28LouisvilleACC$139,955,824$180,000,000$439,889,560
29UCLAPac 12$108,412,967$300,000,000$421,032,418
30MiamiACC$127,170,251$190,000,000$412,925,628

You will note that the majority of these teams are from the B1G and the SEC, thus they will be our two dominant conferences who will destroy the rest.

I am operating under two assumptions: first, both conferences will find a way to cut their dead weight (Sorry to the likes of Vanderbilt, Purdue, Mississippi and the other always a bridesmaid schools). Like Thanos’ snap roughly half of the other teams in these conferences will instantly disappear from the new B1G and SEC (or some other entity that they create).

Second, the B1G will find away to expand or do away with their academic alliance. I know that a lot of stock is put into the B1G’s research partnerships and finances that come along with such, but again there is just too much money at stake both athletically and academically for them to keep it as is. They will find a way to keep both the athletic money and academic money in the future.

How Endgame Conference Realignment Scenario One Goes Down

The ACC teams start feeling froggy a few years before their aforementioned media deal expires, lets say in the year 2033. None of the schools want to be left out in the cold in realignment so the B1G-ACC-Pac 12 alliance quickly goes out the window faster than the Soviet-Nazi non-agression pact. It really doesn’t matter who makes the first call: the SEC, B1G, or some of the ACC member schools, but the SEC and B1G will be carving up the ACC like it is Poland. It is clear that the top schools like Clemson and Florida State can bring more money into each conference. And the alternative is essentially death, so it is a no brainer.

The SEC essentially pilfers Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville selling them on SEC continuity, existing in-state rivalries, and of course all that sweet, sweet cash. The B1G is able to grab Miami and finally makes Notre Dame bend the knee due to sheer $$ value (Hundreds of millions in media payouts over a few years).

A few years thereafter, the B1G reaches out to Washington, Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Arizona State. The convince them that a la Dr Strange that they’ve analyzed the 14 million possible outcomes and the only way they can defeat the SEC is to join the B1G. These Pac schools reluctantly agree to leave their former conference mates knowing that the difference in media money is approaching 50 millions dollars per year at this point and recruiting will be impossible otherwise. Take a look at the the future B1G and the future SEC.

As much as this would destroy college sports for the other schools across the country and would be an indisputable travesty, this would be kind of sweet in a way (lol). The Southern power football teams would essentially be unified from Texas to Florida (except for Miami who has rivalries with Notre Dame and Nebraska and has many fans from elsewhere in the county). The B1G also has a ton of history with the Pac, as the SEC does with the former Big 12 Schools. The B1G could play their conference championship as the Rose Bowl and the SEC could do theirs as the Sugar Bowl.

15 teams also allow for three pods of five each, giving a schedule that would allow for rivalry games and buy games outside of these leagues. I’m sure things wouldn’t work out exactly this way, but I am counting on each conference making moves to try to counteract each other. For example, The B1G usually wouldn’t be caught dead with a school of Arizona State’s academic stature but in a potential merger situation like this the other Pac schools might help put in a good word and it doesn’t hurt that ASU’s blended value is more than the likes of Louisville, Miami, and UCLA. As I mentioned before, I think the endgame will involve the academic alliances being modified or destroyed to allow for both academic and athletic funds to flow freely.

The Rest of the Power Teams in Scenario One

#Big 12Huge MidwestACCPAC 12Big East #
1VanderbiltIllinoisDukeArizonaProvidence1
2Oklahoma StatePurdueMarylandUtahSt Johns2
3BaylorNorthwesternGeorgia TechColoradoSeton Hall3
4TCUIowa StateUVACalVillanova4
5Texas Tech IndianaRutgersOregon StateGeorgetown5
6Miss StateMissouriUConnWashington StateXavier6
7Ole MissKansas StateSyracuseStanfordDePaul7
8HoustonKansasNC StateBoise StateMarquette8
9UCFCincinnatiUNCColorado StateButler9
10MemphisPittVirginia TechSan Diego StateCreighton10
11USFWVUWakeUNLVTemple11
12SMUBoston CollegeGonzaga (Hoops Only) 12
13  Air Force (Football Only)  13

The rest of these teams make moves to try to regain some relevancy in this realignment scenario. As mentioned previously, being in new media markets is no longer paramount. This allows these conferences to realign with a mix of old rivalries and closer geographic proximity. The media payouts will not be nearly as big as the new SEC and B1G conglomerates but these will be fun conferences and someone will rise to the top of each. Teams from these conferences will be able to regularly compete for the college football playoff (expanded 12 seed format) and will get at least 4 or 5 teams into the NCAA basketball tournament on a yearly basis.

Big 12- The leftovers of the Big 12, Vanderbilt, Mississippi schools, and the top of the AAC unite under the Big 12 banner. Geographically this is a pretty good fit for all involved aside from UCF & USF but they are at least familiar traveling partners. The Mississippi schools are pretty bummed to be Thanos’ed out of the SEC after so many years and accept the Big 12 invite as a consolation prize. Vanderbilt flirted with the idea of joining the ACC but ultimately decided to stick with the SEC leftovers.

Huge Midwest Conference – (Who says that the only adjective that a conference can use is “Big”) The cast-offs from the B1G join up with a couple of strong academic Big 8 schools that have been wandering the desert in Kansas, Missouri (via the SEC), Iowa State and Kansas State. Kansas and Missouri get their primary rivalry back and the rest of the schools are a pretty good geographic fit as well. Pitt and WVU see an opportunity to jump to a stronger football conference and reignite old rivalries with each other as well. Cincinnati is happy to be along for the ride.

ACC – After losing their top football schools, the ACC decides to double down on basketball and bring in a few former Big East mates in Rutgers and UConn to be the top basketball conference in the country. They also get Maryland back and correct a wrong that never should have happened in the first place in Maryland’s departure to the B1G.

Pac 12 – The Pac gets a little desperate with the lack of super-strong athletic programs west of the Rockies and they essentially merge with the top of the Mountain West. UNLV gives them a presence in Las Vegas that they have long coveted (CFB and MBB championships are there every year) and they regain Southern California with SDSU after losing USC and UCLA. In time they hope that Gonzaga and Air Force can become more than one-trick ponies in basketball and football respectively.

Big East – As for the basketball-centric power conference, the Big East remains largely unchanged aside from replacing UConn with Temple. Temple being neighbors with Nova is not such a big deal in the world of streaming as they bring in enough revenue. The Owls will, however, have to go independent in football unless some new G5 equivalent conference forms. If one of the A10 schools or a school like Loyola Chicago goes on a Gonzaga-like run over the next decade or two they might also get an invite to round the conference to 12 members. But, that’s the thing about realignment, its all about timing.

What About the Basketball Blue Bloods in Scenario One?

#SchoolCurrent ConferenceAthletic Dept Revenue 2018-20192018-2019 Football ValueBlended Value
1IndianaBig 10$127,832,628$180,000,000$409,581,570
2KansasBig 12$121,553,307$210,000,000$408,883,268
3North CarolinaACC$107,812,619$160,000,000$349,531,548
6DukeACC$116,021,513$68,000,000$324,053,783

The verdict

As you can see, these basketball schools just do not add a ton of value compared to the football powers. Indiana and Kansas are very close to the bottom of the top 30 and there is a chance the B1G and SEC would take them, but right now they fall just outside. Any scenario in which they improve their value involves their football programs taking giant leaps forward. Indiana and UNC are competitive right now but they need to prove that they can sustain that success after a single head coach (Tom Allen and Mack Brown respectively) moves along to greener pastures or retires. Kansas’ football value is actually already more than both Miami and Louisville with the lack of success that they’ve had. If they were able to have a modicum of sustained success in football they would get a B1G invite for sure but the clock might be running out for them to put it together with the demise of the Big 12. So, Kansas, Indiana, and UNC are on the outside looking in as things sit right now but they could improve enough to punch a ticket into the SEC or BIG for the endgame. The only school here who has absolutely no shot to make it into one of the two power leagues is Duke. I would say that I feel bad for the Blue Devils, but I really don’t at all.

Scenario Two: A Single Super League – AKA The $600 Million Club

In this is scenario the SEC becomes the College Super League. The B1G is unable to act swiftly or decisively enough and ends up not only failing to bring in enough top ACC and PAC teams but loses its own top members to the SEC. The SEC again jettisons off lower revenue members and also brings in Notre Dame and Clemson from the ACC. Using the above chart, this includes the only 15 teams that have a blended 2018 valuation of $600 million or more. Note that I’m slotting Clemson in for that last position as I am projecting that over the next few decades they will overtake the other schools ahead of them in revenue at the right time. Again, they’ll need to prove they can do this after Dabo leaves but I think that Clemson has enough football pedigree that they can pull this off.

This will give the Super League about 16 teams so they can do two divisions of eight or four pods and have a championship unto themselves. They will have no need for the NCAA and might just break away from it altogether if they desire.

Anyway, the super league will look like this:

This is basically a Dirty South and Northern Midwest league which makes sense as these are the regions of the country that really care about college sports. I think that even in the world of streaming that the lack of presence in the rest of the country will matter long term but will not be enough to prevent something like this from happening if the B1G is unable to counteract the SEC or the aforementioned B1G-PAC-ACC alliance falls.

That would mean the rest of the “power” conferences look something like this:

#Big 12B1GACCPac 12Old BE LeftoversBig East#
1TennesseeMichigan StVirginiaArizonaWVUProvidence1
2South CarolinaNebraskaNorth CarolinaArizona StateTempleSt John’s2
3VanderbiltMinnesotaDukeCaliforniaRutgersButler3
4LouisvilleIndianaMiamiColoradoUConnGeorgetown4
5KentuckyNorthwesternGeorgia TechOregonCincinnatiSeton Hall5
6Oklahoma StateIllinoisMarylandOregon StateUCFVillanova6
7BaylorPurdueVirginia TechStanfordUSFXavier7
8TCUKansasSyracuseUCLAArmy (Football Only)Marquette8
9Texas TechIowa StateNC StateUSCNavy (Football Only)DePaul9
10Florida StateMissouriPittsburghUtahAir Force (Football Only)Creighton10
11Miss StateKansas StateWakeWashingtonMemphisGonzaga (Hoops Only)11
12Ole MissBoston CollegeWashington StateECU12
13Houston   13
14Arkansas   14

Big 12 – Essentially becomes the poor man’s SEC and a reunion of the SWC. They manage to wrangle Florida State and Louisville away from the ACC, who hope to fill the power void left by the super league powers at this level.

B1G – Reeling from their defeat at the hands of the, SEC the B1G invites in some of their other high academic ranking Midwestern brethren and becomes a fairly solid, homogeneous, and continuous conference.

ACC – Minus their football powers but with Maryland back in the fold this is the way the ACC should be. Ideally, we would get former Big East teams Cuse, BC, Pitt, and Virginia Tech back into the Big East (football version) but they would be foolish to leave the ACC at this point.

Pac 12 – Remains the same as the present day.

Old Big East Leftovers – Former Big East teams (Temple, UConn, WVU, Rutgers, Cincinnati, USF) and eastern AAC teams (UCF, Navy, Memphis, ECU) look around the bar after the last call and join up with each other. They pull in the other service academies for their football prowess (which would require a special dispensation for the Army-Navy game). A school like Buffalo or UMass could also get an invite if they make a leap over the next few decades.

New Big East – The Big East loses UConn once again but decides to bring in Gonzaga for hoops only. With the realignment train going wild the Zags decide that the time is ripe to hop to a stronger basketball conference. Again if an A10 or similar school makes a name for itself it could see Big East invite.

This might be shocking if you’re one of the stronger SEC or B1G teams left out in the cold but I feel like it wouldn’t quite the doomsday scenario that it might appear. If you’re a team like Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan State, Nebraska, etc. you won’t like being left out of the SEC Super League but you’ll have the chance to try to emerge as one of the big dogs of the conference rather than being an “also-ran” to Bama and Ohio State. One or two of these schools will go from being Hawkeye or Black Widow in the B1G/SEC to Thor or Iron Man in their respective conferences. These conferences are clearly inferior to the SEC Super League but they all have an identity aside from the Big East leftovers.

In any case, thanks for reading along with me. The realignment will never stop completely – just like for the Avengers there will always be more battles to fight for college sports. Here’s to hoping that we can put the conference realignment business behind us at some point after the endgame. I just hope don’t lose too much about the game(s) we love in the process.


2021 NCAA March Madness – Men’s Championship Game Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness Men’s Championship Game Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

Men’s Championship Game Expert Picks included below!

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2021 NCAA March Madness – Final Four Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness Final Four Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

2021 NCAA March Madness – Final Four included below!

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NCAA Basketball Coaching Moves: Williams Retires, Beard Moves from Lubbock to Austin

While the NCAA Tournament continues to steal most headlines due to the fact, well, it’s the first in two years, and it’s been must-see TV on both the men’s and women’s side this year, there have also been many moves off the court.

The biggest story came today out of Chapel Hill when legendary head basketball coach Roy Williams announced his retirement from North Carolina.

The 70-year-old leaves the Tar Heels after 18 seasons with an overall record of 485-162, leading North Carolina to National Championships in 2005, 2009, and 2017. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Roy Williams coached 15 seasons at Kansas, leading the Jayhawks to four Final Four appearances.

Williams retires as the fourth all-time leader in wins in NCAA Division I with a complete record of 903-264 with a win percentage of .774. Williams’ also provided plenty of top-tier talent to the NBA as 21 of his former players were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Usually, we’d say the next stop: the basketball Hall of Fame. Still, Roy Williams is passed that as the legendary coach was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

North Carolina now has the hottest job opening in all of college basketball, especially now that Texas has hired their next head basketball coach.

According to sources to ESPN, the Texas Longhorns will be naming Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard as their next coach. Beard has become one of the biggest names in the coaching world after guiding the Red Raiders to an NCAA Runner-Up finish in 2019, and Elite Eight run in 2018.

While the move may rub some the wrong way, it was expected throughout the Big 12 as long as the buyout wasn’t outrageous. Beard began his coaching career at Texas as a student assistant under Tom Penders. Beard has been Red Raiders’ head basketball coach since 2016 and previously served as head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock.

Beard takes over from Shaka Smart, whose underwhelming tenure as Longhorns’ head coach came to an end after six seasons as he left to become head coach at Marquette.

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2021 NCAA March Madness – Elite 8 Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness Elite 8 Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

2021 NCAA March Madness – Elite 8 Expert Picks included below!

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2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big Ten

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

In 2019, the Big Ten was the top conference in college basketball and while it did lose some top tier talent, it still remains the home of potentially ten NCAA Tournament teams.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big Ten conference for the 2020-21 basketball season.

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Wisconsin, Iowa
Top of the Class: Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Rutgers
Needs Tutoring: Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State
Failing: Nebraska, Northwestern

Players to Watch
* Marcus Carr, Minnesota (6-2 JR Guard)
* Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (6-5 JR Guard)
* Seth Towns, Ohio State (6-8 SR Forward)
* Aaron Henry, Michigan State (6-6 JR Forward)
* Luke Garza, Iowa (6-11 SR Center)

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2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big 12

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

There may not be a conference as strong in 2020 than the Big 12. The normal powerhouses sit at the top, but up to seven teams could get into the NCAA Tournament come March.

Let’s dive right into the preview of the Big 12!

Conference Preview
Valedictorians: Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas
Top of the Class: West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma
Needs Tutoring: Iowa State, TCU
Failing: Kansas State

Players to Watch
* Jared Butler, Baylor
(6-3 JR Guard): Withdrew his name from the NBA Draft and instantly became the front-runner to win Big 12 Player of the Year. Averaged over 16 PPG last season.
* Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State (6-8 FR Guard): Star freshman may be the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Triple-double threat who can finish at the rim.
* Marcus Garrett, Kansas (6-5 SR Guard): Versatile guard who will likely contribute more offensively this season. Best defensive guard in the country as the defending National Defensive Player of the Year last season.
* Greg Brown, Texas (6-9 FR Forward): Another super frosh for the Longhorns, Brown flirted with the G-League before signing with the Longhorns. Will be a huge factor in getting Texas over the hump and back into Big 12 title contention.
* Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia (6-9 SO Forward): Considered jumping to the NBA, but made the right decision to return to school. Tshiebwe is a strong rebounder and finisher inside who will have more opportunities to impress in his sophomore season.

Final Take
The Big 12 from top to bottom is solid and have two true title contenders with a handful of teams likely to head to the dance.

Baylor is my favorite to win the title this season led by Butler and MaCio Teague, who both had options to head to the NBA. They’ll have some options at forward including Tristan Clark, transfer Jonathan Pchamwa Tchatchoua, and frehman Zach Loveday and Dain Dainja.

Overall, they are deeper and better than last season’s squad that won 26 games and was likely on their way to being a No. 1 seed. I truly love this Baylor team to make a deep run, but they’ll have Kansas right on their heels.

Kansas is just as deep as Baylor with a great mix of veterans such as Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, and David McCormack plus the addition of newcomers including outstanding freshman Bryce Thompson make Kansas again a Final Four threat.

Kansas looked to be a front-runner for the National title in 2020 before the cancallation and losing players like Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike will hurt, but I think both Kansas and Baylor could be Final Four teams this season.

Texas Tech will take some time to mesh as their roster was overhauled after last season, but come February, Chris Beard will likely have another powerhouse squad ready to make a postseason run. Don’t sleep on West Virginia either this season as Bob Huggins returns four starters from last year’s 21-win team.

The Texas Longhorns are the darkhorse of the Big 12. They feature a great set of guards led by Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, and Andrew Jones. Returning from injury will also be sharpshooter Jase Ferbes to add even more depth to the Texas backcourt.

Then, you jump to the frontcourt where Texas features a standout freshman in Greg Brown, who many thought was heading to the G-League to prep for the NBA. Signing Brown to pair with Jericho Sims and Gerald Liddell was huge for Texas to jump into the Big 12 conversation.

Not to mention, Shaka Smart may be in his make-or-break season with the Longhorns as he’s 90-78 in his five seasons with Texas with nothing to truly show for his tenure yet. This is the squad he’s been waiting on. Texas will be a fun team to watch for many reasons this season.

Cade Cunningham will draw a ton of attention on the Oklahoma State program this season, but as of now, the Cowboys still aren’t eligible to participate in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, so we’ll see how that plays out.

Oklahoma returns both Austin Reaves (14.7 PPG) and Brady Manek (14.4 PPG) which means they could be playing for a spot in the middle of the NCAA Tournament. TCU (Desmond Baine) and Iowa State (Tyrese Haliburton) lost their superstars to the NBA, so they’ll both struggle to stay out of last this season in the Big 12.

Kansas State also loss many players and they’ll spend 2020-21 rebuilding that program with some transfers and younger players.

At the end of the day, the Big 12 may be the best conference in all of college basketball and could possibly see four teams make the Sweet 16 and advance two to the Final Four. Maybe even a Baylor-Kansas National Championship?

I can see it!

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big East

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

The Big East use to be a traditional powerhouse, but it’s just been the Villanova-conference the past few seasons. This year isn’t much different, but Creighton and the return of UConn will make it a bit more difficult this season.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big East!

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Villanova
Top of the Class: Creighton, Connecticut, Seton Hall
Needs Tutoring: St. John’s, Providence, Marquette, Xavier
Failing: Georgetown, Butler, DePaul

Players to Watch
* Collin Gillespie, Villanova
(6-3 SR Guard): Maybe the best PG in college basketball this season. Runs Jay Wright’s offense to perfection and if Villanova is a title contender, Gillespie will be a National Player of the Year contender as well.
* Bryce Aiken, Seton Hall (6-0 SR Guard): There’s no replacing Myles Powell, but the Harvard transfer will likely be the new go-to Pirate this season for Seton Hall if Aiken stays healthy.
* Bryan Antoine, Villanova (6-5 SO Guard): Expect a breakout year from the former McDonald’s All-American after injuries derailed his freshman campaign.
* Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton (6-2 JR Guard): The league’s returning scorer should have another big season. Zegarowski is a great scorer (16.1 PPG last season) and well-rounded point guard who will look to lead Creighton to a Big East title.
* Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova (6-9 SO Forward): In a guard-heavy conference, Robinson-Earl is by far the best big man averaging nearly 10-10 last season.

Final Take
Three teams could contend for the Big East crown, but I still feel Villanova should have everyone in their rear-view. The Wildcats only loss one player from last year’s 24-win team and while that player was their best player (Saddiq Bey, 16.1 PPG), Villanova still features a top tier PG (Gillespie), multiple standout guards (Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, and Caleb Daniels), and a great big man down low (Robinson-Earl).

Villanova will likely be a contender for both the Big East title and the NCAA title, but don’t sleep on Creighton. Creighton would’ve been a top five team if Ty-Shon Alexander would’ve stuck around one more year. Nonetheless, with four returning scorers and the addition of Ryan Kalkbrenner will still lead them to a top ten ranking some time this season.

UConn rejoins the conference and will shake things up a bit, but don’t expect the UConn of old to take over the conference. At least not this season. UConn is more likely to compete with the likes of Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Providence for that third spot in the conference.

Georgetown looked to be building back up as a contender in the Big East, but the loss of Mac McClung hurt bad. Still, the Hoyas will be the strongest team in the conference with some good interior players, but lack of guards, especially defensively, will hurt them throughout the season.

Marquette, Butler, and Xavier are still going through a bit of a rebuild after some success a few years back in the conference while DePaul remain the cellar team of the conference.