Summit League WAC Challenge

It was announced today that the Western Athletic Conference and the Summit League will be competing in a challenge series at least for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 men’s basketball seasons.

The Western Athletic Conference comprised of nine member institutions (Chicago State, Missouri Kansas City, Texas Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico State, Grand Canyon, Utah Valley, Seattle, California State Bakersfield, and newly added member California Baptist). The Summit League also has nine member institutions (Fort Wayne, Western Illinois, South Dakota, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, Nebraska Omaha, Denver, and newly added North Dakota).

We were made aware of this challenge when Mark Rudi of the Las Cruces Sun News first reported that New Mexico State will host North Dakota State this upcoming season, and play at a Summit school in 2019-20. Subsequently Red Sea of Seattle U announced that Seattle will host Omaha.

There are some leagues that have challenges such as the Big Ten and Big East, the Big Ten and ACC, and the SEC and Big 12, however there are not many mid major leagues that have set up formal challenges. The longest lasting and most well known is between  the Mountain West Conference and Missouri Valley Conference. It was also announced that the Summit League an the Big Sky will have a challenge, but it will only be four matchups a year.

My personal thoughts on the challenge are I believe it is a good thing. There are two very similar leagues both are mid major leagues in the Midwest and western part of the country. The WAC finished 14th in RPI and the Summit finished 17th. Most likely the goal behind it is to get the top teams from each league to improve their RPI, strength of schedule, and overall resume for March, and to get teams from each conference more division one non conference home games. With that being said each league has a few good mid major teams at the top, but they each have one team that is the perennial power in their conference. For the WAC this is the New Mexico State Aggies who have won the WAC tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament six of the past seven seasons. For the Summit this is South Dakota State who has won the Summit League tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament five of the past seven seasons. The jackrabbits also have Mike Daum who could become one of the few college basketball players to score more than 3,000 points in his four year career, and will likely play in the NBA some day. This is why it is confusing to me when you have two juggernauts in each conference why they are not matched up to start off the challenge, especially since this is Daum’s last season. This would definitely be the matchup that would help the winner’s resume the most out of any matchups come March. In terms of the Seattle vs. Omaha matchup I think it is a fine middle of the pack pairing.

Update: It has been announced by Kyle McDonald of KSL Sports in Salt Lake City that Utah Valley will host Denver, and travel to Fargo in the 2019-20 season to play North Dakota State then.

Since the WAC already has three home games if all nine teams from both conferences participate that would mean the WAC would only have one or two more home games while the Summit would have four or five home games.

I have predicted which matchups would make the most sense based on last year’s records, and which matchups would make the most sense based off of geography. (Already determined matchups are underlined)

Matchups based on Records and Quality of Teams

New Mexico State vs. North Dakota State

Seattle vs. Omaha

Utah Valley vs. Denver

South Dakota State vs. Grand Canyon Tuesday November 6th

UMKC vs. Oral Roberts

South Dakota vs. Cal State Bakersfield

UTRGV vs. Fort Wayne

North Dakota vs. Cal Baptist

Western Illinois vs. Chicago State

 

Matchups based on Geography

New Mexico State vs. North Dakota State

Seattle vs. Omaha

Utah Valley vs. Denver

South Dakota State vs. Grand Canyon

UTRGV vs. Oral Roberts

Fort Wayne vs. Chicago State

North Dakota vs. Cal Baptist

Western Illinois vs. UMKC

South Dakota vs. Cal State Bakersfield

 

By: Ethan Hennessy

Published on May 18th

Updated on May 20th

Update again May 25th

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