Adjust and move forward. That’s seems to be the sentiment coming from college basketball and football conferences in wake of the many defections and additions that have taken place lately.
The Big 12, which was hit hard by the departure of Nebraska and Colorado, will give the first six teams in basketball a bye in the first round of its tournament.
In the new format, Nos. 8 and 9 and 7 and 10 will play on the first day. The quarterfinals will match No. 4 vs. No. 5, No. 3 vs. No. 6, No. 1 vs. the 8-9 winner and No. 2 vs. the 7-10 winner.
"It went through our coaches groups, went through our administrative groups, went all the way up the ladder," said commissioner Dan Beebe. "I think there was consideration of all sorts of formats. After all the discussion and debates about various benefits and detriments of other formats, it ended up unanimous."
The new format is in place for both men’s and women’s programs. The league also decided to run the men’s and women’s tournaments concurrently, Wednesday through Saturday. The women previously had a day off between the semifinal and championship game. Under the new format the off day is eliminated.
For SEC basketball, the plan is to make sure the league can get more teams in the NCAA Tournament. Last week the SEC voted to scrap its current two-division, six-team model for a one league, 12-team format. Alabama finished with 25 wins and went 12-4 in SEC play, but didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide suffered from the SEC's unbalanced schedule, which prevented the team from playing conference heavyweights such as Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee more than once.
College hoops fans should brace themselves because this will be the first of many shifts conference alignments. We touched on how the Big East is likely to make some changes down the line with the addition of TCU. The Pac-10, which has added Colorado and Utah, will change its name to the PAC-12. Look for that conference to tweak its schedule, too.
The Big Ten became the talk fo college sports a couple of years ago after reports surfaced the conference was looking to expand to as many as 18 teams. The conference already added to its portfolio with the addition of Nebraska, which will begin play this season. There was talk of Rutgers, Pittsburgh and possibly even West Virginia bolting to the Big Ten.
It's not a far-fetched idea. Penn State, an east coast school, is in the Big Ten. It wouldn't be a stretch to see more eastern region schools move on. Pitt moving would put West Virginia in a difficult spot and vice versa because of the rivalry between the two. Rutgers would get big time exposure in the midwest if it opted to make a move.