2022-23 NCAA Basketball Conference Realignment Refresh: Murray State, Belmont Among Notable Changes
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Belmont Bruins
So you’re thumbing through our college basketball preseason content, and I know what you’re thinking:
Who. The. [Expletive]. Is. Lindenwood?
What in Great Odin’s Raven is a Stonehill Skyhawk?
And how do we make boatloads of money off of these teams?
I am your faithful servant. Your guide. Your sagacious, psuedonymic cypher decoding the rhymes and riddles of college basketball realignment. Let us begin our journey.
For better or worse, the college sports landscape is dominated by conference realignment.
UCLA and USC are joining the Big Ten in a few years. Oklahoma and Texas are heading for the SEC. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will replace the OU-UT duo in the Big 12.
These are future moves, with the narrative being college football driven.
But college basketball has almost three times as many teams and conferences, and double-digit teams are moving leagues for this upcoming season.
The moves can be dizzying to follow, but that’s what we’re here for.
Here’s a comprehensive list of every Division-I college basketball realignment move for the upcoming season:
Division-I 2022-23 NCAA Basketball Conference Realignment
|Mount St. Mary's
|USI (Southern Indiana)
Major NCAAB Conference Realignment Storylines
Sun Belt Stacks Up
The Sun Belt recruited four teams for the upcoming season, and it ravaged the Conference USA in the meanwhile.
Former C-USA teams Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss bolted for the Fun Belt.
Moreover, James Madison joins the conference in a move from the CAA.
The effects are twofold.
JMU, Marshall and Old Dominion represent three of the top four teams in KenPom’s projections for the upcoming Sun Belt season. The moves significantly improve the conference's short-term outlook.
Meanwhile, the C-USA lost three teams and added none. The downsize resulted in the conference ditching the East and West divisions for one 12-team league.
But the conference retained its top eight teams from last season, via KenPom’s adjusted efficiency.
If anything, the C-USA is just trimming the fat.
OVC Getting Shredded
The Ohio Valley lost Austin Peay, Belmont and Murray State. That represents 16 of the league’s last 17 regular-season champions.
The league has re-stocked, picking up Lindenwood and USI from Division-II, and Little Rock from the Sun Belt.
But it’s hard to say the league upgraded. The OVC is projected to finish 29th in KenPom’s conference ratings after finishing 23rd last season.
Keep an eye on the WAC.
The league picked up UT Arlington and Southern Utah. But Lamar dipped back to the Southland after winning zero WAC conference games last season, and Chicago State also left.
Meanwhile, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State are on the way out next season.
The middle part of the WAC will look significantly different by this time next season.
Luckily, the top part of the conference is still solid with Grand Canyon, Abilene Christian and Utah Valley.
D-II Schools Making a Jump
We have five schools jumping from Division-II to Division-I this season. Those include:
- Queens to the ASUN
- USI to the OVC
- Lindenwood to the OVC
- Stonehill to the NEC
- Texas A&M-Commerce to the Southland
D-I Schools Becoming Independent
Meanwhile, two teams are trending in opposite directions.
Hartford announced its decision to move to Division-III last season, although the move won’t be completed by 2025. But the Hawks are officially done with the America East and are playing a 28-game thrown-together schedule consisting of teams from FDU-Florham to a doubleheader with Penn.
Additionally, Chicago State is this year’s lost program. The Cougars have departed the WAC with no planned future destination. They’ve put together a wild schedule, with games against IUPUI and Gonzaga in the same season.
The two independent programs will play each other on Feb. 19 in a must-see game.
KenPom projects that spread as Hartford -1.
Other Storylines To Watch
- North Carolina A&T is moving to the CAA from the MEAC after spending the 2021-22 season in the Big South.
- Bryant represents the first real test for Vermont in the America East. John Becker’s squad has won 11 of the last 12 regular-season titles in the conference.
- Loyola-Chicago attempts to move up in the world, taking a spot in the A-10 after years of dominating the Missouri Valley. Illinois-Chicago will take its spot in the Valley.