The debates over the best conferences continue each year. It’s fun to discuss the new players, the coaches, the arenas and fans. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Big 10 are often in the discussion for men’s basketball. Rightfully so.
That being stated, with what’s going on with conference realignment, specifically Southern California and UCLA moving to the Big 10 in 2024, the Big XII is apparently making moves that could change that conversation.
Teams that are rumored to be involved with the Big XII include Utah, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado. For the sake of this discussion, however, diving into just one of those schools because of their basketball history would make the Big XII the No. 1 college basketball conference in the land, year after year.
The Arizona Wildcats. Even if it’s likely that the Big XII adds multiple teams, perhaps even six teams, adding just this one basketball program is exciting.
From the days of former Head Coach Lute Olsen roaming the sidelines, Arizona has been a traditional power in men’s basketball. There’s the 1997 National Championship, plus being runner up in 2001, and being a two-time national semi-finalist in 1988 and 2004.
Under the direction of first-year Head Coach Tommy Lloyd, the Wildcats also had a great 2021-2022 season, being ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, and eventually losing in the regional semifinal 72-60 to Houston.
There’s history with the Wildcats, and it’s a stable program under the direction of its most recent head coaching hire. Now, add the Arizona men’s basketball program to the future Big XII list that will include Baylor (2021 National Champion), Kansas (2022 National Champion), Houston, BYU, UCF, West Virginia, TCU, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State.
That's a tremendous list of basketball programs inside one conference. Most of those teams have been either deep into the NCAA Tournament in the past 20 years and/or ranked in the top 20 of a national poll.
Yes, there’s Virginia, Duke and North Carolina in the ACC, and the Big 10 is always highly competitive with Michigan State, Michigan, Wiscsonsin, Ohio State, and other programs. Still, the heavyweights at the top of the Big XII should not be ignored, nor should the depth of the conference either.
The Big XII has been a highly competitive league for a long time, but adding Arizona will make it an even better conference than the ACC and Big 10, year after year.