As we move into December, teams have moved into conference play and it’s nearly Christmas. We’re right in the meat of college basketball season. And of course, the Land-Grant Holy Land Bucketheads, Connor Lemons and Justin Golba, are back with another iteration of You’re Nuts, where we debate the hottest and most interesting topics pertaining to college hoops.
Insert shameless podcast plug here:
Last week, we debated what should replace the iconic Big Ten/ACC Challenge since it is ending this season. Connor said the Big Ten should start a regional rivalry week and Justin wants a Big Ten/MAC Challenge.
Justin won a tight one with 28 votes while Connor got 26. A handful of you want neither of things. What else could you possibly want?
Here are the updated standings after a long 78 weeks.
After 78 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
This week, we are looking into the future. Is USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten in 2024 a good or a bad thing for the conference from a basketball perspective? This move has been looked at as mostly a football-driven move, but newsflash: there’s a whole slew of other sports that will be affected too!
Let’s dive in.
Today’s question: Is USC/UCLA joining the Big Ten good for basketball?
Time for me to spew my boomer views on conference realignment — I’ve been waiting so long to complain about this! In short, two west coast teams joining the Big Ten conference is dumb, looks unnatural, and is simply a money grab. It also ignores the welfare of student-athletes who will have to travel across the country for a single two-hour game, when conferences were aligned based on geography.
First and foremost, the conferences were created based on geography, and no matter how messy we make them or how much we bastardize them for money, the conferences were always created to compete against teams near you. Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, etc. The Big Ten made sense for a while. I was not a fan of Rutgers or Maryland joining the Big Ten either when they are clearly in ACC/Big East country.
Second, the majority of basketball games are during the week, not the weekend. This means that, unless the Big Ten can pull a Houdini act and schedule every USC and UCLA game on the weekend (other than games between the two California schools), some schools will have to fly to California on a school night to play a game, and then fly three time zones back the next day. I’m not sure how this will be organized from a scheduling perspective, but it sounds incredibly dumb to me. They’re nowhere near the midwest!
Third, I don’t think the Big Ten needs to have sixteen teams — period. If the B1G wants to add two more teams, then unfortunately they’ll need to send eviction notices to Nebraska and Rutgers — the two teams who, in my opinion, fit the Big Ten identity the least. At what point is too big, too big? Eighteen teams? Twenty?
There’s a good chance I’m just stuck in the mindset of the Big Ten I grew up with, and that I’m unwilling to change. College sports are changing, and some conferences may just wind up going extinct when the dust settles. But if we could hang on to some of what makes the Big Ten the gritty, midwest conference, that would be fantastic.
This is a big one because if you have been paying attention to the rankings, I can tie it up with this one and I am not positive this thing has ever been tied or I have been leading. I have been chasing for a solid year and a half, but I am coming back.
Regardless of that, I can see both sides of this argument. There are pros and cons. However, I do think the pros outweigh the cons in this case.
First of all, you are adding two premier programs to the conference. That is never a bad thing. UCLA is obviously one of the top programs in the history of the sport (shoutout to John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Walton) and USC has been incredibly solid under Andy Enfield and one of the better programs in the Pac-12.
They are also recognizable, not just successful. The more eyeballs and national TV games, the better and that is exactly what USC and especially UCLA games bring.
Plus, Bill Walton! Love him or hate him, Walton is one of the most entertaining broadcasters in the business and he is a package deal with UCLA so he will be calling some of their ESPN games, especially the late, after-dark ones.
Also, they make the conference better. Some people don’t care about the stigma or narrative surrounding the conference, but I do. And right now, that narrative is that the conference is overrated and cannot win in March. I disagree with this and adding teams like USC and UCLA that have had recent success in that realm will help. Plus, more challenges to ready Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten for conference play.
Is USC/UCLA joining the Big Ten good for basketball?
This poll is closed