Could the reorientation of the conference strengthen the Big 12 in basketball?

Since it’s goodbye week for OSU football, and while much of the attention in these parts is going to be on Oklahoma and Texas during this weekend, I thought I would bring your attention to … Oklahoma and Texas. Or rather, how the departure of the two Big 12 towers could enable an upgrade for the league.

I am sure that caught your attention. So let’s talk college tires.

Arguably the toughest league in college basketball, the Big 12 is getting tougher thanks to the events that followed the seismic shift that rocked the sport of college last July.

Oklahoma and Texas will be headed to the SEC through 2025, but before it leaves the conference it will be strengthened with Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, and UCF. On the face of football, the former pair dwarfs the latter group, but when it comes to college tires I am always excited about this change.

This week Mike Boynton was asked about the newcomers to the Big 12.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Boynton. “I think my job has gotten tougher, to be completely honest. But I enjoy this challenge. “

Boynton went on to have respect for all four basketball programs that are being added, but highlighted a famous Cincinnati program and hot Houston that made it to the Final Four last year.

“I’ve watched Cincinnati basketball for a long time and turned away from many conferences in my life,” said Boytnon. “I certainly remember when Coach (Bob) Huggins was there, and the success of creating some sort of identity for this program, thanks to him, you know, it has stayed with them ever since. Such a tough, big hit, recruit people who really want to work hard. “

The OSU are 3-2 against Cincinnati, with the Cowboys and Bearcats splitting their last encounters in 2001 and 2003. Cincinnati, like the state of Oklahoma, boasts two NCAA titles, the last coming in 1962.

The Cowboys have the most history with Houston, on two fronts. The OSU-UH series is a classic with the two programs that met 19 times from 1951 to 1965. The two were enemies of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1950 to 1957. They didn’t play again until signing for two seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The away team won both games.

“What Coach (Kelvin) Sampson did at the University of Houston is really phenomenal,” said Boynton. “I worked at Stephen F. Austin not long ago, and we had a better basketball program than the University of Houston. It is just what it is and it is no longer the case. And it has a lot to do with his commitment, and then your commitment to investing in this program, but he’s really well recruited, made the Final Four a year ago and is one of the greatest coaches of all time in our game. “

Sampson is of course no stranger to the Gallagher-Iba Arena and no stranger to the Big 12. His teams in Oklahoma were tough and at least for me he is the face that comes to my mind when you mention the Bedlam basketball- Rivalry.

“And Central Florida had some success, not as consistent as the other programs,” continued Boynton. “I’ve never been to BYU, but I saw the area around their basketball games. So I’m not really looking forward to it, but I know that there will be more competition in a league that I think is already the best in the country. “

As for the other two programs, the Cowboys 3-4 are against BYU and the two last met in 2003-04 after playing in 2002-03 as well. OSU and UCF have never met on the hardwood.

I was curious to see how the inbound Big 12 programs stack up against the outbound in terms of legacy. Here’s a quick look, courtesy of Sports Reference.

school WL% NCAAs Final fours NCAA title
Cincinnati .640 33 6th 2
Houston .607 22nd 6th 0
BYU .628 30th 0 0
UCF .503 5 0 0

For reference, here are the two schools that will eventually replace these four.

school WL% NCAAs Final fours NCAA title
Oklahoma .609 33 5 0
Texas .623 35 3rd 0

I’m not denigrating the Red River rivals when it comes to college tires. Both boast historical programs and both are missed, but I think not enough has been said about how fun their league substitutes will be. If these changes go into effect, the Big 12 could actually be a tougher league, top-down, than it already was.

If we’re talking about a broad macro view of college sport, swapping a pair of blue-blooded brands like OU and Texas is by no means a bargain for these four schools, but – in terms of tires at least – it doesn’t look like it is the Big 12 would take a step back. It could actually get better.

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