Summit League WAC Challenge
It was announced 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.
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.
Seven of the nine matchups have already been determined, and while I would love to see some cross country interesting geographical games as that is what these conferences are all about stretching from Fort Wayne Indiana to Denver Colorado and Chicago Illinois to Seattle Washington I unfortunately doubt the remaining games will be scheduled with my geographical preferences in mind, and they will probably just put the two Illinois schools against each other. (Already determined matchups are underlined) The Summit League is guaranteed at least one more game at home either at Western Illinois or South Dakota, but after that each conference will have four home games, and one conference will get a solid advantage in securing a fifth home game.
North Dakota State at New Mexico State November 6th
Omaha at Seattle December 6th
Denver at Utah Valley December 1st
Grand Canyon at South Dakota State November 6th
UMKC at Fort Wayne December 1st
Cal Baptist at Oral Roberts November 13th
North Dakota at UTRGV December 5th
Cal State Bakersfield at South Dakota Dec 1st
Western Illinois at Chicago State or Chicago State at Western Illinois
By: Ethan Hennessy
Published on May 18th
Last Updated on 9-13-18