Click bait or legit talks for another big conference realignment shift? You be the judge. Conference realignment junkie Mark Blaudschun recently wrote that the American Athletic Conference (or AAC) has had upper level discussions about the football breakaway half of the conference once known as the Big East, potentially expanding to include Wichita State, VCU and Dayton to increase the league’s basketball profile.
“According to several sources throughout the league, the American Athletic Conference is looking for a way to upgrade its rankings in basketball with an expansion blueprint focused primarily on Wichita State, but also including other higher profile basketball schools such as Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth,” Blaudschun wrote.
Both leagues boast current members who have won national championships in college basketball since 2014, the AAC sending UConn all the way to that year’s final to lift the trophy, then Villanova representing the Big East in winning the national championship this past season.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is currently projecting a five-team Big East representation in this year’s NCAA tournament with just two from the American, the same amount as he currently projects the Atlantic 10 to send. All three potential AAC additions are projected as tournament teams, which would have that conference among the nation’s best and ahead of the “power conference” SEC.
Those two AAC projections don’t include American Athletic Conference flagship programs UConn and Memphis, two traditional powers who have struggled this season.
There are currently 11 AAC college basketball programs, meaning the additions of WSU, VCU and Dayton would increase that conference to a 14-team hoops league, the same size of the current Atlantic 10.
The league would become a loaded basketball conference that would include VCU, Wichita State, Dayton, UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati, SMU, Houston, Temple as well as Tulsa, ECU, South Florida, Central Florida and Tulane.