Big 12, Big East discussing basketball scheduling alliance

(Photo: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)

OTTUMWA, Iowa — While some high-major conferences move toward 20-game conference basketball slates, the Big 12 is looking elsewhere to potentially bolster its future basketball scheduling.

Both the Big Ten and ACC have formally announced plans to move their leagues to 20 conference basketball games beginning as soon as the 2018-19 season while the Pac-12 and SEC are reportedly considering doing the same. That puts the Big 12 in a more unique position as a high major as its 10 institutions already play each other twice for an 18-game conference slate.

While that won’t change, Big 12 initiatives could still help add to the schedules.

“What’s happening is some other leagues are considering going to 20 games, so if a couple leagues go to 20 games, it’ll be harder to get a non-conference home and home,” Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard said Monday on the Cyclone Tailgate Tour. “So we’ve had some discussions with the Big East about the possibility of doing a scheduling alliance to counterbalance the SEC Challenge so that we would have 20 games locked up.” 

The Big 12/SEC Challenge will enter its sixth year in 2018-19 and in some sense is viewed by the league as one yearly locked-in high-major opponent. The addition of some sort of Big East scheduling would take the Big 12 to the aforementioned 20-game number that other conferences are aiming for.

The Big East has boasted a strong resume in recent seasons. The league had six teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18, including No. 1 seeds Villanova and Xavier. According to KenPom, five Big East teams finished in the Top-30 last season including Villanova, Xavier, Butler, Seton Hall and Creighton.

There is no timetable for when such an alliance between the Big 12 and Big East could begin, though 2019-20 appears to be the earliest with most schedules already locked in for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

“I think the Big East challenge would be great. Sometimes it is hard to find good home games and so if you get a Xavier or you get a Marquette or you get someone like that to come to Ames, I think that’s great,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “And if that just takes place of the game like Missouri [this season] to where you play Iowa, you play the SEC, you play the Big East, that’s huge and then you still continue to play the multi-team events and you’re playing, again, probably 24-25 high-major teams.”

Agreements with the SEC and Big East would get each Big 12 program to a guaranteed 20 high-major opponents including conference games with holiday tournaments and other scheduling available to increase that number.

The Big East previously had an agreement with the SEC that went until 2012. The Big Ten and Big East currently play the yearly Gavitt Tipoff Games, which began in 2015 and are contracted out through the 2022 season.

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