So it’s college basketball season again, which means that Syracuse, a bedrock of the Big East, will be tipping off its season with nice, cushy home games against delicious cupcakes and….
Wait a minute, the Orange are going to the ACC next year? And they’re starting against San Diego State? And they’re traveling across the country to play it? And it’s on an aircraft carrier?
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the hoops scene circa 2012-13. Not a season goes by without a fair amount of conference shuffling from programs large and small alike, but the recent shifts are so numerous and profound that it’s bound to reshape the way we look at things.
Start, of course, with the football-driven moves of SU, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (to the ACC), Missouri, Texas A&M (to the SEC) and West Virginia (to the Big 12), but don’t stop there. There’s UNLV to the Big West, Butler and VCU to the Atlantic 10, Cornell leaving the Ivy League – okay, I’m kidding about the last one, but it’s no less chaotic.
Put together, this just drives fans crazy. Old rivalries are tossed aside, passions are forgotten, all in pursuit of ever-more TV dollars and a hope that your name gets called on Selection Sunday as the ninth team from a Big Ten that really deserves a mere five NCAA bids.
When all of these profound changes take place, it’s only fitting, perhaps, that the game’s power corridor has veered west, to a block of land on either side of the Ohio River where basketball is king 24/7/365 and no one has to play second (or third) fiddle to football.
Kentucky’s awesome run to the national championship last spring, done on the backs of one-and-done megatalents like Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, was a confirmation of John Calipari’s methods, which haven’t exactly drawn praise from quarters outside of Lexington.