Conference Realignment Tracker: Ranking the top moves for the upcoming 2022-2023 college basketball season


Conference Realignment Tracker: Ranking the top moves for the upcoming 2022-2023 college basketball season

The realignment of the future conference was the focus of college sports this week as news broke Thursday broken that USC and UCLA will be on their way to the Big Ten by 2024. The move marks the latest shake in a series of changes sparked last year by the announcement that Texas and Oklahoma will move from the Big 12 to the SEC in the coming years.

While emerging additions to the Big Ten and the SEC represent seismic changes and will have a particularly marked impact on college football, they will also alter the basketball dynamics of those leagues. But before we get excited about theoretical USC-Rutgers basketball matches on five-hour cross-country weekdays, there are plenty of other conference moves that will impact college basketball even sooner.

With more than 350 Division I basketball programs all competing for the same national title from 32 conferences — compared to just 10 leagues at college football’s FBS level — the changes can be difficult to track. As we turn the page from the 2021-22 basketball season to the 2022-23 campaign, you might notice a few teams in new leagues, most of which became official on Friday, with July being the start of the 2022-23 sports calendar.

To simplify things, here is a rundown of the most impactful conference changes in Division I college basketball for the 2022-23 season.

1. Ohio Valley loses brands

The Ohio Valley Conference has been one of college basketball’s most fascinating mid-major leagues for years, regularly producing exciting conference tournaments and NCAA tournament favorites. But a significant portion of the league’s basketball browns head into the 2022-23 season as Austin Peay (Atlantic Sun), Belmont (Missouri Valley) and Murray State (Missouri Valley) each prepare to join new leagues after this one The trio have won 16 of the league’s last 17 regular-season titles combined. As for the teams left behind, Morehead State might be in a position to succeed as the Eagles have won 23 games in consecutive seasons and entered NCAA tournaments three times since 2009.

2nd Division II squads make the leap

Among the schools stepping up to replace the outgoing OVC programs are some Division II programs in southern Indiana and Lindenwood. If they move to Division I, SIU and Lindenwood will go through the NCAA-mandated transition period, which keeps them from participating in NCAA tournaments until 2027. The third new OVC member is Little Rock, who hails from the Sun Belt.

While a full division jump can seem daunting, Bellarmine’s successful move from Division II to the Atlantic Sun is proof that results can come early. The Knights won the ASUN tournament last season in their sophomore year as Division I members, but it was regular-season champion Jacksonville State who represented the league in the NCAA tournament due to Bellarmine’s transition period. ASUN is getting another Division II promoted in the coming season as Queens University is set to join the league. The other former Division II members moving to Division I this season are Stonehill (Northeast Conference) and Texas A&M Commerce (Southland).

3. MVC gets a shake

While the departure of a Loyola Chicago banner program for the Atlantic 10 is a hard blow to the Missouri Valley, it has bounced back nicely. With Belmont and Murray State on the way from the OVC, the league is gaining two strong basketball programs with a great coaching lineage and a track record of competitive play in early-round NCAA tournament games. Also joining the MVC is Illinois-Chicago from the Horizon League. While the Flames haven’t been to the Big Dance since 2004 and have never won an NCAA tournament game, their addition brings the Missouri Valley to just 12 members.

4. Changing the sun belt

Amidst all of the football-driven realignment of 2021 that began with Texas and Oklahoma’s departure from the Big 12 to the SEC, the ripple effects meant the Sun Belt actually received one of the earliest makeovers. The league will have Conference USA defectors Marshall, Southern Miss and Old Dominion for the 2022-23 season, also adding the CAA’s James Madison. The league lost Little Rock to the OVC and Texas-Arlington to the WAC, but came away well from a basketball perspective.

5. WAC is expanding

The WAC has always been crazy and a revolving door of sorts and it will continue to reinforce that identity in the 2022-23 season. Southern Utah and Texas-Arlington are participating from Big Sky and Sun Belt, respectively, for the upcoming season before Lamar, New Mexico State and Sam Houston leave the conference next year. Does the WAC even ever know who’s in the WAC?

2022-23 conference changes

Austin Peay OVC A SUN
Belmont OVC MVC
briant NEC CAA
hampton Big South CAA
Illinois-Chicago horizon MVC
JamesMadison CAA sunbelt
basswood Department II OVC
Small stone sunbelt OVC
Loyola-Chicago MVC Atlantic 10
marshal C-USA sunbelt
Monmouth MAAC CAA
Mount Saint Mary NEC MAAC
State of Murray OVC MVC
North Carolina A&T MEAC CAA
Old rule C-USA sunbelt
Queens Department II A SUN
southern indiana Department II OVC
Southern miss C-USA sunbelt
Southern Utah big sky WAC
cairn Department II NEC
Rocky creek America East CAA
Texas A&M trade Department II southland
Texas Arlington sunbelt WAC

Future conference changes

BYU WCC big 12 2023-24
Charlotte C-USA American 2023-24
cincinnati American big 12 2023-24
FAU C-USA American 2023-24
Hartford America East Department III 2023-24
Houston American big 12 2023-24
State of Jacksonville A SUN C-USA 2023-24
lamar WAC southland 2023-24
freedom A SUN C-USA 2023-24
State of New Mexico WAC C-USA 2023-24
North Texas C-USA American 2023-24
rice C-USA American 2023-24
Sam Houston WAC C-USA 2023-24
UAB C-USA American 2023-24
UCF American big 12 2023-24
UTSA C-USA American 2023-24
UCLA Pac-12 big ten 2024-25
U.S.C Pac-12 big ten 2024-25
Oklahoma big 12 SEC open
Texas big 12 SEC open
State of Chicago WAC open open

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