Expansion Candidates Down to 3? Oakland, Evansville and Belmont Head List

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PantherU.com posted that his sources have begun to focus on just three schools as Horizon League expansion targets. Oakland and Belmont were already on the list, but Evansville is suddenly among the choices at the top.

Late Wednesday night, PantherU posted a note on their Facebook page that the list of candidates for Horizon League expansion had narrowed to just three. Oakland, Belmont and Evansville would be added, creating a 12-team conference with considerable basketball heft at the mid-major level.

They then spent the next 12 hours emphasizing that this was not an official report, but only that the chatter on certain teams seemed to have stopped.

That means no Murray State, and no Morehead State. It also means Robert Morris is likely to stay put in the Northeast.

Back when Butler left and a possible list of candidates was floated, Murray State and Belmont seemed like the big gets, with Oakland not far behind. It would have been a power troika that could have immediately boosted the profile of the conference from a depth standpoint.

With Murray State out of the running and Evansville in, that shifts. The Aces aren't going to immediately help the league. Over the last 10 seasons, they have profiled as a middle of the road program in the country, falling somewhere in the 150-200 range overall. Just once in that time have they cracked the top 100 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings ($).

However, some of that might be that they were mismatched against their current league. Being in the Missouri Valley can help a team, but not if you can't win enough games against the top level of the league. Perhaps moving across to the Horizon (a league more beneficial both geographically and talent-wise) could change the Aces' fortunes.

As PantherU.com stated, this is not a fait accompli by any means, but it appears we could be hearing an announcement sometime soon.

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