Rumors have been swirling around the Big 12 Conference this week of a search for new potential members. Of the many schools that have been discussed in joining the Big 12, Mountain West’s Boise State remains a legitimate contender for a spot in the future. Whether these rumors will come to fruition is unknown, but it’s never too early to talk about the potential effects of the move.
It’s possible that Boise State could enter the Big 12 as a football-only member, which would be an unattractive look for the Mountain West. As a result, BSU would likely explore other locations to participate in basketball.
Let’s have a little fun and discuss which conferences would welcome Boise State as a hoops member, assuming BSU jets to the Big 12 for football.
Tournament appearances per year (64 years): 1.28
Final Fours: 3
2016 KenPom conference ranking: 11th of 32
Conference stock: Neutral
Without considering the Pac- 12, the West Coast Conference (WCC) is the best option for Boise State if it ends up heading to the Big 12 for football. Although the WCC is typically a top-heavy conference with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, the Broncos would fit in nicely with this league. It would be a challenge for BSU to compete with heavyweight Gonzaga (which has won either the regular season or tournament championship in each of the last 19 years), but this is a conference that is capable of sending multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament and is well respected across the college basketball world. The WCC is an offensive-driven league, which fits Leon Rice’s coaching philosophies that are mainly focused on the offensive end. In the past seven seasons, the WCC hasn’t finished any worse than 9th in terms of offensive efficiency. Given the opportunity, Boise State would be wise to test the WCC waters. After all, the WCC is the only conference out west (besides the Pac-12) that Boise State hasn’t called home.
Tournament appearances per year (47 years): 1.23
Final Fours: 3
2016 KenPom conference ranking: 14th of 32
Conference stock: Up
Here is a very intriguing mid-major conference that is quickly gaining ground on the other leagues out west. The Big West Conference, fresh off its best season in recent memory, is home to a number of solid hoops programs in Hawaii, UC Irvine, and Long Beach State. Not many stars have passed through the Big West recently, but its teams have been a tough out in March as of late. Hawaii reached the round of 32 this season after an upset win over California and UC Irvine nearly knocked off Louisville in a 4/13 matchup in 2015. The Big West is chock-full of hungry teams that aren’t afraid of playing the country’s best. Long Beach State, notorious for its ruthless schedules under longtime head coach Dan Munson, has picked up non-conference matchups against Virginia, UCLA, Duke, Xavier, Syracuse, Louisville, Arizona, Ohio State, Kansas and North Carolina in just the past five seasons. A conference like the Big West would give Boise State an opportunity to win conference titles while also scheduling games against nationally-prominent teams, a recipe for success come tournament time.
Tournament appearances per year (53 years): 0.92
Final Fours: 0
2016 KenPom conference ranking: 28th of 32
Conference stock: Down
Boise State spent its first 26 season as a division-1 basketball program in the Big Sky, advancing to four NCAA Tournaments and taking a share of the regular season title three times. However, the Big Sky has never been anything more than a middling low-major conference, and has yet to send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament in the same season. Montana, Eastern Washington and Weber State are the top teams from the conference, but joining the Big Sky would be nothing but a neutral move, at best, for Boise State’s hoops program.
Tournament appearances per year (54 years): 1.72
Final Fours: 2
2016 KenPom conference ranking: 27th of 32
Conference stock: Down
If there’s any conference that Boise State should avoid at all costs, it’s the Western Athletic Conference, also known as the WAC. After WAC’s top program (New Mexico State) lost its conference’s best head coach this offseason (Marvin Menzies), there is yet another dark cloud raining on the WAC’s chances of becoming a prominent mid-major. Through the years, the WAC has been a rest stop for UTEP, Nevada, Utah State and Boise State, which all moved on to healthier situations. As an 8-team conference that continues to lose its best members, a WAC encore would make zero sense for the Broncos.
Which conference do you think is the best fit for Boise State basketball?