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Missouri Valley, Mountain West close to restarting ‘Challenge’ series

Bradley v Wichita State

Bradley v Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken

For conferences such as the Missouri Valley and the Mountain West, the task of putting together quality non-conference schedules that will ultimately benefit them in March is an important one. While both leagues have members capable of rounding up multiple opportunities against quality non-conference foes without much difficulty, there are others who find that to be a bit more difficult.

Thursday it was reported by Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star that the two conferences are close to “restarting” the MVC-MW Challenge that was first held from 2009-12. According to the article it’s unknown if the Challenge will be restarted next year or during the 2016-17 season, with scheduling being the reason why.

“We are challenged (as to when to re-launch the series) by the fact that we agreed to this so late,” (MVC commissioner Doug) Elgin said. “Teams are at a point of finalizing schedules. We are trying to get the right matchups within the constraints of games that teams already have scheduled and arena dates that are available.”

Elgin has been working on the agreement with Mountain West senior associate commissioner Dan Butterly, a Washington native and former member of the MVC staff.

“We’re both excited that this can work out,” Elgin said. “It’s mutually beneficial for both conferences. This is a sign of two strong basketball leagues who are willing to play strong non-conference schedules.”

Both conferences have programs who, in recent years, have impacted the national landscape with Wichita State having won 35 straight games in 2013-14 and San Diego State making its second Sweet 16 appearance in the last four seasons. Adding another quality game to the non-conference schedule can only help these conferences, especially when taking Selection Sunday into consideration.

These challenges are only as good as the match-ups they produce, which can be tricky since a lot can happen between November/December and March. But given the teams who have performed well in the Missouri Valley and Mountain West in recent seasons, putting together marquee games should not be much of an issue.