Big 12 Basketball: 3 schools that should be added with Gonzaga

Kyle Neptune, Big 12 basketball (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images).
Kyle Neptune, Big 12 basketball (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images). /
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Dan Hurley, Big 12 basketball Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Hurley, Big 12 basketball Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The conversation surrounding conference expansion has resumed once again with Big 12 basketball potentially being able to add a powerhouse men’s hoops program in the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This reignites the conference expansion conversation, just in a bit of a different fashion than we’re used to in relation to the Big 12.

According to a report from Pete Thamel of ESPN on Nov. 2, the Big 12 and the Gonzaga athletic department are in discussions about potentially joining the conference. Gonzaga currently competes in the West Coast Conference.

Moreover, it feels like most of the time that the Big 12 is involved in the conference expansion and/or realignment conversation, it is in a reactive state. Rarely is the Big 12 getting aggressive with expansion to set the pace with some big moves to get ahead of the other major conferences.

And this would be a different way for the Big 12 to approach the conference expansion conversation by thinking from a basketball-first perspective. Gonzaga clearly would be the most impactful in terms of what it brings to the Big 12 with the stature of the men’s hoops program.

Who Big 12 basketball could add to the conference in conjunction with Gonzaga?

With this in mind, here’s a look at three other schools that the Big 12 could add along with Gonzaga with a basketball-first approach taking center stage.


Current conference: Big East

If the Big 12 is willing to take the basketball-first approach in this round of conference realignment, there are certainly some very viable options that come to mind in terms of the best expansion candidates.

One of the first schools that comes to mind in regard to basketball expansion candidates for the Big 12 is clearly the Villanova Wildcats.

The risk that comes with the Villanova basketball program in this round of conference realignment hypothetically lies with the direction of the team under new head coach Kyle Neptune. The longtime Villanova staffer/assistant coach Neptune got the promotion to the head coaching job after the retirement of well-respected head coach Jay Wright following the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.

But Neptune was around in this Villanova basketball culture that was conducive to so much success, including two National Championships in the last half-decade or so. That should translate to continued success for this basketball program as it moves into the post-Wright era.

Moreover, in terms of what Villanova could bring to the table for the Big 12, it is pretty clear the value that this brand has. Villanova is one of the best brands in college hoops in recent years.

Imagine a conference that has the likes of the Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears, Gonzaga, and Villanova, all playing each other at least once per season.