Last month, Oregon and Washington both finalizedand Arizona, Arizona State and Utah all made the news official that they would be in 2024. The Big Ten will have four former Pac-12 schools in 2024: Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington and the Big 12 has the "Four Corner" Pac-12 schools. The SEC will also be getting stronger next season when Texas and Oklahoma depart from the Big 12.
While the recent changes in conference realignment were sparked by the increasing value of TV rights for college football, the shuffling will have a huge impact on college basketball.
The Pac-12 now has only two schools remaining: Oregon State and Washington State. They have limited options going forward with the AAC announcing this week they out West. Oregon State and Washington State's best option appears to be to merge with the Mountain West.
With the addition of the three new programs, it casts serious doubt about if the ACC Florida State reportedly could have its the ACC in the future. Florida State was one of a few reported schools that were against the ACC adding Cal, Stanford and SMU.as a conference in basketball.
Even if the ACC in fact didn't get better like the other major conferences, we can identify the major moves taking place for the 2024-25 college basketball season.
The Big 12, already considered to be the, will get even stronger by adding traditional power Arizona in addition to Arizona State and Utah -- schools who have had sporadic success throughout the years in basketball. Coming on the heels of resurgent Houston joining the league for this upcoming season, the Big 12 is poised to be prepared for the impending loss of Texas and Oklahoma. How good is the new look Big 12? Last season, all 16 league members finished in the top 80 of KemPom and this season will add the Cougars, Cincinnati, BYU and UCF.
The Big Ten's major moves were known last year when it added USC and basketball powerhouse UCLA, who now will be joining an 18-team league after last month's moves by Oregon and Washington.
The college basketball landscape will look different for the 2023-24 season but will undergo a seismic shift in 2024-25 so here is the expected impact the schools moving to a major conference in 2024-25 could have on their new respective leagues.
Cal was one of the worst schools from a major conference in the country last season. The only major conference program that ranked lower than Cal in KenPom.com was Louisville, who went an abysmal 4-28 during the 2022-23 season. The Golden Bears have produced successful NBA players during the last decade, including Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown. Cal hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2016 and has won less than 15 games in each of the last six seasons. The Golden Bears went 3-29 during the 2022-23 season and fired coach Mark Fox after the season. Cal hired someone to replace Fox with Northern California roots in former Utah Valley coach Mark Madsen, who played at rival Stanford. He will be in charge of leading one of the worst basketball programs in the country through a serious transition.
The Cardinal haven't reached the NCAA Tournament since 2014 and has missed out on March Madness in 13 of the last 14 seasons. Stanford coach Jarod Haase will be on the hot seat if Stanford doesn't show improvement this season. The Cardinal did land one of the top basketball prospects in the country in McDonald's All-American Andrej Stojakovic. Cal and Stanford haven't been successful in the Pac-12, so joining a better basketball conference in the ACC is going to be an uphill battle.
SMU hasduring the last three decades and has had stops in the Southwest Conference, Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the AAC, where they have been a full-time member since 2013. SMU has only made the NCAA Tournament twice since 1994 and is coming off a 10-22 season. The Mustangs did go 30-5 and finished AAC play 17-1 before falling in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. SMU has had more basketball success than its new league members from the Pac-12, but it will still be an uphill battle to compete with some of the best teams in the country.
Tommy Lloyd was hired in 2021 at Arizona after a long stint as an assistant at Gonzaga. He instantly revived the Wildcats back to being one of the premier programs out West. Arizona is coming off being on the wrong side of one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, but the program appears to be in good hands going forward. Even with Texas departing from the Big 12 after this season, the additions of Arizona and Houston have to make commissioner Brett Yormark feel good. Arizona already has commitments from two of the best players in the 2024 class: Carter Bryant and Jamari Phillips.
Arizona State is in an interesting spot after agreeing to join the Big 12. After missing the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, the Sun Devils responded in 2022-23 with its best season since 2018-19. The Big 12 is much stronger than the Pac-12, but the Sun Devils have stability with Bobby Hurley at the helm. He signed a two-year contract extension in March that will keep him employed at ASU through the 2025-26 season. The Sun Devils haven't made it out of the first weekend of the tournament since the 1994-95 season and joining the Big 12 only makes that road harder.
Colorado is going back to familiar territory to a conference they helped found in 1994. The Buffaloes left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in 2011 and immediately had success. After not making the NCAA Tournament eight straight seasons in the Big 12, Colorado made the tournament in four of its first five seasons as a member of the Pac-12. Colorado has never been known as a basketball powerhouse and you can argue it is in a similar spot as Arizona State. Both programs are trending toward success. Colorado's football program will benefit more from the move, but the familiarity should help the transition in basketball as well.
Utah going to the Big 12 could very well hurt its basketball program in the short term. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Utes have only made the NCAA Tournament twice and have failed to win 20 games in the last five seasons. The new additions the Big 12 has made during the last two realignments cycles could solidify the Big 12 as the premier basketball conference in 2024. Unless the program makes a massive jump, the Utes could struggle immediately.
Oregon has one of the top college athletic brands in the country and this move will certainly help expand the Big Ten's footprint out West. The Ducks basketball program has been consistent over the last decade and made the NCAA Tournament seven of eight times the tournament was held from 2012-2021. Oregon won 24 games during the 2019-20 season and would've certainly made the NCAA Tournament had it not been canceled because of COVID-19. The Big Ten will be a test for Oregon because of the upgraded competition, but the extended resources should help the program achieve success.
Not only will UCLA be one of the top programs in the Big Ten upon its arrival next season, but they also have one of the best coaches in America in Mick Cronin, who has Midwest roots. During the last three seasons, UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 twice and the Final Four once in 2021, when they lost to Gonzaga on an iconic buzzer-beater by Jalen Suggs. UCLA's recruiting efforts under Cronin have also been very impactful. UCLA signed a top-20 class in the last two recruiting cycles and already has a commitment from one of the top players in the 2024 class in Eric Freeny. UCLA will be the team most prepared for the jump to the Big Ten because of its prestige and recent success.
USC is going to be one of the programs under a microscope in 2023 because of two reasons: they have the No. 2 overall player from the 2023 recruiting class (Isaiah Collier) and Bronny James elected to stay close to his father in Los Angeles and play at USC. Bronny's status heading into the season is far more complex because of the scary incident that occurred last month that saw him hospitalized after going into cardiac arrest and collapsing during a basketball practice with the Trojans. A wild card that could cement USC as one of the must-watch programs in the Big Ten is if the younger James elects to stay another season to improve his draft stock. USC coach Andy Enfield has proved he can recruit and will have to continue to do so at a high level to keep up with the elite programs in the conference.
`Since Utah and Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011, Washington has made the NCAA Tournament only once. The Huskies have failed to win 20 or more games in nine of the last 11 seasons and the basketball program is in a similar spot as Utah. Both programs are joining a new conference that could see them finish near the bottom of the standings the first few seasons they're a member. Washington's recent struggles as a member of the Pac-12 isn't a huge vote of confidence that the program will succeed in a far better basketball conference.
When former coach Lon Kruger announced he was retiring following the 2020-21 season, Oklahoma made a splash hire and plucked Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser away to be the new man in charge at OU. The Sooners haven't made an NCAA Tournament appearance in Moser's first two seasons at the helm but are coming off a 19-win season. Oklahoma's 2023 recruiting class finished in the middle of the Big 12 and has a pair of four-stars coming into the program this season in Kaden Cooper and Jacolb Cole. You can make the argument this move for Oklahoma basketball will be good for the program long-term as the Big 12 is a better overall basketball conference in the current state than the SEC.
Rodney Terry has the Longhorns going in the right direction. After Texas dealt with former coach Chris Beard being fired at the start of the new year, Terry took over and helped guide the team to the Elite Eight. Texas removed the interim tag off Terry's title and hired him to a five-year deal. The SEC will be in an interesting spot for the 2024-25 season because of the shaky play of Kentucky in recent years and the rise of Alabama. With the state of the conference as of today, Texas should be able to compete for a SEC championship immediately.