In the next week or so, the Big Ten will choose its champions in both men’s and women’s basketball.
On the men’s side, the biggest story could be the fact that Northwestern can clinch its first NCAA Division I tournament berth if they go deep enough in its conference tournament, which is being held in Washington, D.C.
On the women’s side, the biggest story is the University of Maryland, which is a Top Five team looking to earn a top-four seed if it can win the conference tournament being played in Indianapolis.
Sounds like the tournaments should be reversed, no?
But that’s the new normal when it comes to college superconferences.
The upheaval in college sports conferences the last several years means that rivalries which may have had more of a regional flavor have been jettisoned in the chase for lucrative football and men’s basketball dollars. It also means that you have to pretend that a game between Texas and West Virginia has the same kind of rivalry implications as, say, Syracuse vs. Miami.
But we all know that the real rivalries are between Pittsburgh and West Virginia, or Maryland vs. Virginia or Syracuse vs. St. John’s. Only there’s no guarantees these teams will meet over the course of a season.
And instead of listening to their fans and alumni/ae, the schools instead are looking for the next big payday.
And that’s a shame.