Though Missouri Valley Conference administrators and coaches are “nearly unanimous” in approval to continue the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, some within the Mountain West are talking about taking the series elsewhere.
A report in Friday’s Albuquerque Journal, a newspaper covering New Mexico and coach Steve Alford (a former Missouri State coach), said the Mountain West could match up against a league that makes more geographic sense than the MVC.
“I think we’ve got to be a league, with all this realignment, trying to get a challenge that’s out west – whether it’s Big 12 or Pac-12, the Big West or something like that,” Alford told the paper. “The Missouri Valley is in the Midwest, and there isn’t a whole lot we’re doing as a league in the Midwest. Something out west, I think, would be maybe a little more beneficial.”
The Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, in its fourth and final year, exists to raise league profiles and get more teams into the NCAA tournament.
The MVC earned multiple NCAA tournament bids last season from Creighton and Wichita State, the first time the league did so since 2007. The Mountain West meanwhile sent four.
“It’s proven to be very beneficial, I would say, especially over the last three years in how we’ve gotten multiple teams in the NCAA Tournament and how we’re looking to do that again this year,” Mountain West Senior Associate Commissioner Dan Butterly told the Albuquerque Journal.
UE plays its third Challenge game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Colorado State, which returns three starters from last season’s NCAA tournament team. The Aces previously lost to Air Force and TCU.
The Mountain West holds an 18-11 series advantage all-time as the Challenge works through its fourth and final year. That deal not be re-upped for next season, though MVC commissioner Doug Elgin left open the possibility that a new agreement could be struck for 2014-2015.
“I think there’s some mutual interest,” Elgin said in October during the MVC’s basketball media day.
But enough interest? Stay tuned.