So the college sports expansion carousel has (mostly) come to a halt, at least for now.
Nebraska to the Big Ten. Colorado to the Pac-Something. Someone else (Utah, anyone?) likely to follow. Boise State to the Mountain West.
And the biggest winner, competitively speaking, in all of this?
After enduring an incredibly long and harrowing week, Big 12 basketball --- or whatever name the league will have --- has come out clean on the other side.
With the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, the conference gives up the princely sum of one NCAA tournament victory in the last 40 years.
It lost seven .500 or better conference records in a combined 28 seasons (14 each) since the Big 12 was formed. You can look it up (*-NCAA tournament invitation):
1997: Colorado (11-5)*
1998: Nebraska (10-6)*
1999: Nebraska (10-6)
2003: Colorado (9-7)*
2004: Colorado (10-6)
2006: Colorado (9-7)
2009: Nebraska (8-8)
So what's left? A 10-team league in which ...
* Every team has appeared in the NCAA tournament at least once since 2005. Yep, even Iowa State. Only the ACC can match that.
* Every team has won at least one NCAA tournament game since 2005. Again, even Iowa State. How quickly folks forget the Cyclones' eminently forgettable victory in an 8-9 game against Minnesota before getting clobbered by Sean May, Raymond Felton and the rest of the eventual '05 champs. As far as the ACC goes, neither Clemson (last NCAA win: 1997) nor Florida State (1998) have a tournament win that stretch.
That stat looks nifty by itself. But consider those are the only two leagues that can claim each of its members have collected an NCAA tournament victory since the advent of the 64-team field in 1985.*
(*-Oh, the Missouri Valley was so close as well. Alas, Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers hit a 3-pointer as time expired in overtime in the 2008 first round, denying Drake its first NCAA tournament victory since 1971. The other nine Valley schools have all won an NCAA game in the 64ish-team era).
* Every team has reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament at least once since 2000. Seven of the 10 remaining teams have gotten that far since 2007. Only Iowa State (2000) has a Sweet 16 drought stretching back past 2005.
* Has sent six different schools to a regional final in the last three years. There was Baylor and Kansas State in 2010, Missouri and Oklahoma in 2009 and Kansas and Texas in 2008. Only the Big East also has more than two; that 16-team league has sent five schools to a regional final since '08.Granted, this raw number doesn't change with Colorado and Nebraska departing. But it does make the qualitative evaluation of the league better. Think about it: Sixty percent of the Big "12" was within a step of the Final Four in the last three seasons. That is above average. Way above average.
Granted, basketball wields a lot less power than football in these massive shifts, as everyone should have figured out by now. But if basketball matters even a little bit, the Big 12 should be pleased it is a substantially better league on the court thanks to a little addition by subtraction.