...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
One 14 Team Conference to Rule Them All
First of all, I sincerely doubt am pretty much willing to completely discount the possibility that the Big Ten will expand to 14 teams. However, it is an interesting exercise to consider the possibility, particularly when the alternative would be to do the physics homework I have due tomorrow. Anyway, here we go:
Current conventional wisdom considers adding Maryland, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri, etc. (i.e. an array of palatable choices) to the Big Ten. No group of three here could even hope to better the Big Ten financially, because these schools cannot generate enough revenue collectively to improve the financial situation of the Big Ten. This is not to say that an individual school wouldn't be able to do so. With the exception of Rutgers, who doesn't produce a lot of revenue, despite their proximity to New York, and would become an instant doormat in every important sport, each school on that list has the potential to benefit the Big Ten financially. Every school would likely add something in television revenue and a Big Ten championship game could be a huge moneymaker. In fact, if the Big Ten does expand, it is possible that they may consider putting the game on the Big Ten Network, which would suck to watch but would either make the network more profitable or allow them to drive up the price that another network (likely ESPN/ABC) would have to pay to televise the game. This means that the addition of one school adds some television revenue and the revenue of a championship game. However, any school in addition to a 12th school would only add television revenue in their market, which would almost certainly cause the Big Ten member schools to lose revenue.
Now, if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, the move would have to include several major schools, not unlike the ACC bringing in Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. In fact, if the Big Ten were to attempt to expand east, it is likely that at least some (or even all) of those schools would be recruited. However, I think that if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams they would most likely move west. This thought is not based on some whimsical geographic notion, but rather because I have three specific teams in mind.
This is where it gets interesting. If the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, I believe the best move is to poach Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. These teams would be more likely to leave the Big 12 as a group, because it would allow them to maintain some rivalries (most notably Kansas and Missouri), increase their revenue, and join a conference that is much more prestigious than being in the Big 12 North. Meanwhile, the Big Ten might be able to increase their TV revenue by adding a larger geographic footprint (Kansas and Nebraska aren't much from a revenue standpoint, but Missouri would be a nice addition*), and the addition of a national football power in Nebraska and a national basketball power in Kansas would allow the Big Ten to sign much larger television contracts. Also, from a competitive standpoint, this move would make the Big Ten stronger in football and much stronger in basketball.
Obviously, this is not remotely likely to happen. The financial uncertainty and legal problems that this type of move would cause would be a huge risk for a conference that doesn't need to take it and universities who stand to potentially lose a lot of money. That said, it is a fun idea to think about, particularly when you consider how much havoc this would cause (bye, bye Big 12...cackle cackle).
Not well thought out fun with divisions in the new 14 team Big Ten (note, I am assuming nine conference games with one game reserved as a permanent inter-divisional rivalry):
Ohio State-Penn State
Note: I considered leaving out permanent rivalries because outside of Northwestern-Illinois (and OSU-PSU to an extent), none seemed that important. However, I decided that it would be worthwhile to do them as an exercise. My methodology to making them was to prioritize current rivalries first (MSU-Indiana, OSU-PSU, and Northwestern-Illinois), then match the remaining teams as best I could. I put Michigan and Nebraska together because of the historical success of both programs, although it also makes a lot of sense to put Iowa and Nebraska together (it could be called the Corn Bowl, a trophy game in which the winner gets a golden corn...).