The European Super League is basically dead at this point, but that doesn’t mean we’re done discussing it because it’s the offseason.
On Tuesday, we noted which Syracuse Orange programs would potentially be included in specific sports’ Super League setups. And while SU men’s lacrosse is the only one that’s certainly a founding member of a setup like this, men’s basketball is certainly close — and a very likely inclusion as one of the sport’s biggest moneymakers and ratings draws.
Before we dive in, we’ll all agree that this will never happen... while ALSO agreeing that many American sports fans would love (or at least support) this sort of exclusionary setup based on supposed exceptionalism. Despite the continued protests around the Orange’s ACC move, Syracuse fans would certainly celebrate inclusion in an elite league like this. And would protest vehemently (like most fan bases would) if they weren’t included.
So who’s included in a founding 12-program Super League for men’s college basketball? And who would fill out the other spots in an eventual 20-program setup? We go tier by tier:
The Braintrust: Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA
If we’re being honest, this would be Kentucky’s idea, and UNC and Duke would rather just stay in the ACC while playing each other. But the allure of being able to say they’re “better” than other programs while also collecting more money in the process would probably be enough to found this group with other long-time bluebloods. Their fans would also be among the first to protest their programs joining.
UCLA and Kansas wouldn’t allow something like this to exist without being included. Indiana’s mad for not being on this line, but we’ll get to them.
IU and MSU would be the first to knock on the door in this scenario, along with Louisville (who wouldn’t accept any reality where UK was perceived to be on a higher tier as a program). Syracuse would have to be in, even with the uncertainty of the post-Jim Boeheim era in the near future. UConn and Villanova also have too much recent success to be left out and realistically, their inclusion would help East Coast interest in this thing.
So those are your 12 initial members, and I don’t necessarily think there’s much controversy there beyond those that feel like Michigan doesn’t belong (and I’d argue they clearly do over the likes of Gonzaga and Arizona). But since the initial Super League seemed bound for 20 teams, there’s room to add those programs as well within a few seasons.
Who would join them, though?
The rest of a 16-member Super League: Arizona, Gonzaga, Florida, Ohio State
The four simplest teams to add by historic and/or recent success metrics.
The last four in a 20-team arrangement: Oklahoma... and I guess Virginia, Wisconsin and one of Georgetown/Illinois/Cincinnati/NC State?
This portion of the list is less than straightforward, however. Oklahoma probably has the recent and historic success to make the group. Virginia’s recent title and a decade of success probably means they’re in over various other contenders without the same highs. Wisconsin hasn’t won a title in 70 years but has been consistently relevant for the last two decades on a level similar to Oklahoma, but with more consistency.
To be honest, there’s a fair argument to be made that the last four mentioned for one spot have a greater historical claim to inclusion with 20 teams than OU/UVA/Wisconsin do. And that’s a perfectly reasonable point to make as well.
Of course, there are plenty more teams that could be included in that final group and admittedly it’s not an easy task to get this to 20 (while I’d argue 12 is relatively simple). Surely you have your own picks, so submit those below.