College basketball is on the verge of Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington are joining the Big Ten. The "Four Corner" schools comprised of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are departing the Pac-12 for the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas will finally join the SEC after announcing they would bolt for the conference during the summer of 2021.for the 2024-25 season.
The Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are getting stronger and the Pac-12 is on the verge of collapsing after over a century of excellence. The good news: Two notable traditional rivalries are being renewed on the hardwood because of conference realignment and a handful of new marquee conference games are being created.
Texas and Texas A&M will play each other in conference play for the first time since 2012 — which marked Texas A&M's final season in the Big 12 before leaving for the SEC. The other rivalry being renewed is a battle between in-state programs: BYU and Utah. Both schools were in the Mountain West in 2010 before Utah made the jump to the Pac-12. BYU joins the Big 12 officially this season after spending time as a member of the West Coast Conference in basketball.
Here are five conference games to look forward in 2024-25.
Arizona vs. Kansas
A Big 12 basketball matchup between Arizona and Kansas might be the most intriguing new conference game on the slate. Tommy Lloyd has helped bring back Arizona into the national spotlight and the move to arguably the strongest basketball conference in the country helps solidify the Wildcats' footprint in the Midwest. Kansas won the national championship in 2021 and has been one of the most consistent programs during the last two decades under Bill Self. Moving to the Big 12 with Arizona allows the Wildcats to maintain its in-state rivalry with Arizona State but the program is also bound to create more new rivalries within the conference.
Texas vs. Texas A&M
You know about the history of the rivalry on the football field but both basketball programs are rising together at the right time. Texas just promoted Rodney Terry from interim to full-time head coach after he led the Longhorns to the Elite Eight. Texas A&M reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018 this past season and won 25+ games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. This should be a game that is a home-and-home series every season going forward.
UCLA vs. Indiana
UCLA joining the Big Ten is the best basketball addition the conference is making. Not only do the Bruins have the pedigree with the most men's basketball national championships ever (11) but also have had success under Mick Cronin since he took over the program in 2019. The NCAA Tournament was canceled in his first season because of COVID-19 but in his first tournament in Westwood, UCLA went from the First Four to the Final Four before losing to Gonzaga on a Jalen Suggs halfcourt buzzer beater. Indiana hired Mike Woodson in 2021 to turn around a once proud program and in his first two seasons as the head coach, the Hoosiers reached the NCAA Tournament. Picking a new conference "rival" for the Bruins is tough because of the geographical differences, but a battle between two tradition-rich programs has the makings of a must-watch game.
Utah vs. BYU
When Utah left the Mountain West for the Pac-12 in 2011, it simultaneously put the rivalry with BYU on the back burner. The two programs played each other in the non-conference schedule from 2013-15 but have only played twice since. Since joining the Pac-12, the Utes haven't had the success they envisioned and have only made the NCAA Tournament twice. In the same stretch, BYU has made the tournament four times since becoming a member of the West Coast Conference and will get a one-year head start in the Big 12 before Utah joins the conference in 2024. Rest assured, neither school is likely going to be playing for a national championship anytime soon but seeing a rivalry renewed is good for the sport.
Kentucky vs. Texas
Kentucky and Texas are both going to challenge for the SEC title during the 2024-25 season. Sure, Kentucky hasn't had the success it once had in the early years under John Calipari, but the Wildcats are still the top dog in the conference. Texas hadn't won 29 or more games since the 2007-08 season, which is something Kentucky has accomplished under Coach Cal seven times since he was hired in 2009. Kentucky can still recruit, too. The Wildcats finished with the No. 1 class in the 2023 247Sports Team Rankings and appear on track to have similar success in the next recruiting cycle. The Longhorns program hasn't reached a Final Four since 2003 but they're clearly on the rise. Terry can recruit and a matchup between the Longhorns and Wildcats should be fun to watch for years to come.