We all know by now that football is what drives conference expansion, that why Kansas dreams of a Big Ten invite are just that, a dream, at least until Lance Leipold gets Jayhawk football humming. But, while you can go on and on all day all the possible expansion scenarios.
One does seem more likely, and I’m going to break down, and what it would mean for five days in March.
What would adding Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah look like for the Big 12 Basketball Tournament.
What Last Season Would’ve Looked Like
So first, just making the bracket, you have a clear path to follow with the 2010 Big East Tournament, top 4 go to the quarters, 5-8 go to the Second Round, and the bottom eight play on the first day. Coming up with the seeding, was a mix of conference records from last season, with also basing them off the conference they were in. For example Arizona had a better record than Kansas, but the Pac 12 was so much easier than the Big 12. So here’s a hypothetical seeding based off of last season.
|#||Expanded Big 12||W-L|
So there’s the hypothetical seeding here’s what a bracket would look like based off of last season.
|#||First Round||#||Second Round||#||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Final|
Here’s the schedule you’d get, with predictions on how the games would go, with winners in bold. The only caveat is if it’s a 5 day event I want all 16 teams starting no earlier than Wednesday, so I bumped the start back a day for a Sunday final.
|Wednesday||11:30||13||Kansas State||Arizona State||12||First Round|
|Wednesday||2:00||16||Utah||Iowa State||9||First Round|
|Wednesday||6:00||15||West Virginia||BYU||10||First Round|
|Wednesday||8:30||14||Cincinnati||Central Florida||11||First Round|
|Thursday||11:30||13||Kansas State||Texas Tech||5||Second Round|
|Thursday||2:00||9||Iowa State||Oklahoma State||8||Second Round|
|Thursday||8:30||11||Central Florida||TCU||6||Second Round|
So first off how about those matchups, you get Kansas State, and Arizona State to open it up on the first day, a UCF, Cincinnati matchup. Day two Iowa State Oklahoma State in the 8/9, BYU, Colorado in the 7/10. Then by Day 3 a Texas Tech Houston matchup would be an amazing way to start the day, the packed house for Kansas Iowa State after, and two second round NCAA Tournament teams to finish off the day with Baylor, and TCU. By the weekend you get the actual tournament final with Texas Tech and Arizona, then a 1 and 2 National seed between Arizona and Baylor. Obviously upsets happen, maybe TCU beats Baylor, but that TCU Arizona NCAA Tournament game was definitely a good one. I’d love to see that one in Kansas City.
Do You Keep It In Kansas City?
So when I posted the tweet talking about this, a major thing stuck out, based on the replies people really, really don’t want it in Kansas City. Now I went to Kansas City for the last tournament and it was a blast. Kansas City was a great city, the setup with the arena right next to the Power and Light District was amazing. It was affordable, There were good cheap bars near that area as well between the games to hangout at. I got there for the Quarterfinals after Kansas State was eliminated, but the number of Kansas, and Iowa State fans was incredible. If Kansas State, and Oklahoma State were in it at that point I’d expect an even better atmosphere. Also, not just because it has Kansas in its name doesn’t mean it’s a boring city, they beat out Denver to host matches for the 2026 World Cup. So it can’t be a scenario that the Big 12 is too big for it. However there are some good points on why it should be moved.
First is it’s in Missouri, that’s tax dollars leaving Big 12 fans, and not going to a state or government that actually sponsors Big 12 schools. That’s actually a huge hangup, do you want to continue having Big 12 fans have their money go to a state whose flagship program has already left year after year? Secondly, we’re now an expanding conference sure, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State fans turn out well, but that on its own shouldn’t be a reason to keep it in Kansas City, when you have 13 other schools to worry about. Also in this scenario you’re the king of the west. The Big Ten, SEC, and Big East will always play in the Eastern and Central time zones. What if you go West to the mountain or Pacific to change the start times, and get a few stand alone games?
Where Else Could You Go With It?
So to start, I’m not wanting Kansas City to completely lose the Big 12 Tournament, heck I don’t know if they should even move it out of there at all yet. But, what if you rotate the Big 12 tournament, and guarantee that every 2 or 3 years it’s in Kansas City.
Denver- This one is definitely contingent on Colorado joining the Big 12, but it’d certainly be a trip fans would be willing to make. If your team goes out on Thursday you can still get a couple days of skiing in mid march, heck if you have the late start times you can get a day of skiing in, and get back in time for your team’s games. The problem is that they also have the Avs, Nuggets, and an indoor lacrosse team that play there that time of year. The Big 12 would likely occupy a week of the arena, and that’s just a scheduling nightmare. Now the Big 12 could possibly work it out every five years but that’d be the limit, definitely not a permanent home.
A clear bonus here is the weather, you’ll never be cold there at all, and they only have one team occupying the main stadium. It brings a good spot for visiting fans to go and could certainly have tournaments here every so often would be a good way to integrate the Arizona fanbases, and it’s in a western time zone.
Oklahoma City has hosted before, was it great? Not really. But it is central to the Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas schools, and a state that (slightly) borders Colorado. Plus they just lost the baseball tournament, and are looking for another draw.
This one is difficult, it’s where the Big 12 HQ is located, has 4 Big 12 schools in the state, but the last time they hosted attendance was horrendous. It also doesn’t leave the Central time zone, which could be appealing for the Big 12 to try out.
This would be fun for obvious reasons, it would be a heck of a road trip, and ticket sales could definitely go up. Sports have proven to be successful in Vegas, but like Kansas City, there’s no Big 12 in the state. Add into it that it may be a less family friendly event there, and it probably can’t be a permanent home.
Salt Lake City
Pros: Beautiful, would probably get more beer sales, than the Jazz all season.
Con: Will Big 12 fans pay $14 for a watered down beer?
I have no opposition to keeping the tournament in Kansas City, it’s a great city, and has done a great job as host. But if we go to 16 teams it may be time to at least move it around. There’s six more suitable hosts, that could make sense, but my hope would be that it at least is in Kansas City often, seeing what that city has meant for the Big 12.
Either way the Big 12 is well on it’s way to being the dominant force in College Basketball, and would likely top even the old Big East when you look at the depth, and large fan bases alone.