Future conference realignment took center stage in college sports this week, when news broke Thursday that USC and UCLA will be on their way to the Big Ten in 2024. The move marks the latest shakeup in a series of changes sparked last year by the announcement that Texas and Oklahoma will transition from the Big 12 to the SEC in the coming years.
While looming additions to the Big Ten and SEC are seismic changes and will have a particularly striking impact on college football, they will change the basketball dynamics of those leagues as well. But before we look ahead to theoretical weeknight basketball matchups between USC and Rutgers involving five-hour cross-country flights, there are plenty of other conference moves going on that will have an impact on college basketball even sooner.
With more than 350 Division I basketball programs all vying for the same national title from 32 conferences — versus just 10 leagues in the FBS level of college football — the changes can be difficult to track. As we flip the page from 2021-22 hoops season to the 2022-23 campaign, you may notice some teams in new leagues, most of which became official Friday with July being the start of the 2022-23 athletic calendar.
To simplify things, here is a rundown of the most impactful conference changes in Division I college basketball for the 2022-23 season.
1. Ohio Valley loses brands
The Ohio Valley Conference has been one of college basketball’s most captivating mid-major leagues for years, producing exciting conference tournaments and NCAA Tournament darlings on a regular basis. But a significant portion of the league’s basketball braun is departing for the 2022-23 season as Austin Peay (Atlantic Sun), Belmont (Missouri Valley) and Murray State (Missouri Valley) each prepare to join new leagues after that trio combined to win 16 of the league’s past 17 regular-season titles. As for the teams left behind, Morehead State could be in a position to thrive as the Eagles have won 23 games in consecutive seasons while making three NCAA Tournament appearances since 2009.
2. Division II squads make the leap
Among the schools entering to replace the departing OVC programs are a couple of Division II programs in Southern Indiana and Lindenwood. As they move to Division I, SIU and Lindenwood will go through the NCAA-mandated transition period that will keep them from NCAA Tournament eligibility until 2027. The third incoming OVC member is Little Rock, which joins from the Sun Belt.
While a full division leap can seem daunting, Bellarmine‘s successful move from Division II to the Atlantic Sun is evidence that results can come early. The Knights won the ASUN Tournament last season in their second year as Division I members, but it was regular season champion Jacksonville State which represented the league in the NCAA Tournament due to Bellarmine’s transition period. The ASUN is getting yet another Division II mover in the season ahead as Queens University will join the league. The other former Division II members transitioning to Division I this season are Stonehill (Northeast Conference) and Texas A&M Commerce (Southland).
3. MVC gets a shakeup
While the departure of a banner program in Loyola Chicago for the Atlantic 10 is a tough blow for the Missouri Valley, it rebounded nicely. With Belmont and Murray State on the way in from the OVC, the league is gaining a pair of strong basketball programs with a great coaching lineage and a track record of competitive play in early round NCAA Tournament games. Also joining the MVC is Illinois-Chicago from the Horizon League. While the Flames haven’t been to the Big Dance since 2004 and have never won an NCAA Tournament game, their addition gets the Missouri Valley to an even 12 members.
4. Sun Belt changes
Amid all the football-fueled realignment of 2021 that began with Texas and Oklahoma’s departure from the Big 12 to the SEC, the ripple effects resulted in the Sun Belt actually getting one of the earliest makeovers. The league will have Conference USA defectors Marshall, Southern Miss and Old Dominion for the 2022-23 season and is also adding James Madison from the CAA. The league lost Little Rock to the OVC and Texas-Arlington to the WAC but came out fine from a basketball perspective.
5. WAC expands
The WAC has always been wacky and somewhat of a revolving door, and it will continue bolstering that identity in the 2022-23 season. Southern Utah and Texas-Arlington are joining from the Big Sky and Sun Belt, respectively, for the upcoming season before Lamar, New Mexico State and Sam Houston depart the conference next year. Does the WAC even always know who is in the WAC?
2022-23 conference changes
|TEAM||OLD CONFERENCE||NEW CONFERENCE|
|James Madison||CAA||Sun Belt|
|Little Rock||Sun Belt||OVC|
|Mount Saint Mary’s||NEC||MAAC|
|North Carolina A&T||MEAC||CAA|
|Old Dominion||C-USA||Sun Belt|
|Southern Indiana||Division II||OVC|
|Southern Miss||C-USA||Sun Belt|
|Southern Utah||Big Sky||WAC|
|Stony Brook||America East||CAA|
|Texas A&M Commerce||Division II||Southland|
Future conference changes
|TEAM||OLD CONFERENCE||NEW CONFERENCE||EFFECTIVE DATE|
|Hartford||America East||Division III||2023-24|
|New Mexico State||WAC||C-USA||2023-24|