TheAsianSensation wrote:None of the options are great. I'm assuming Dayton and St Louis are out of play.
Category: basketball product:
If you're concerned solely about basketball product, these are probably the best 2 bets.
Category: expanding the conference footprint:
UALR, UT-Arlington, Belmont, Oakland or Detroit, Wright St, Milwaukee/Green Bay, the XDSUs, UMKC, Denver
A mix of schools who are capable of competing in the Valley, and a few that probably aren't. Some only slightly stretch the geography; Denver and UTA are probably too far.
Category: up-and-comers to take a risk on:
Omaha, Northern Kentucky, Oakland?, XDSUs?
Programs relatively new to D-1 and perhaps have room to grow. NKU seems to make sense on the surface
Category: markets markets markets:
UIC, Detroit or Oakland?, Cleveland St, IUPUI, UMKC, Omaha?
Mostly fodder, IMO
Category: suck it up and eat the travel costs for the good of the conference you stupid cheap schools:
New Mexico St
We can take one of 3 paths:
1) Add the best basketball programs, preserving conference strength above everything else
2) Add good markets for TV purposes regardless of the strength of the individual programs
3) Try to middle it between #1 and #2
I don't have a good feel on the direction. I want to add the XDSUs, but that takes us to 11 and commits us to 12. I'd rather stay at 10. Plus if you add them, you have 5 western teams and 6 eastern teams, and now you're pigeonholed into UMKC or Omaha as a 12th. Maybe Little Rock makes sense in this spot.
Does NKU/Valpo/Wright St work? NKU is a wildcard and the schools seem to be on the small side.
Belmont? They might not be interested still. Oakland?
...I don't like it, but I commit to the XDSUs and Little Rock (if you want to argue Omaha in this spot I'm fine). The XDSUs have shown enough competency and consistency to make me trust them over most. Plan B would be Belmont alone. Plan C would be Valpo alone. Plan D would be Valpo/NKU/Oakland or Wright St.
There's also the nuclear option to go to 16 with the XDSUs/Omaha/UALR/NKU/Oakland/Valpo. It'd be the poor man's version of the A-10's strategy: have a bunch of schools, try to get as many of them in the RPI 75-150 range every year to keep the strength of the conference propped up.
One thing I know: if we add UIC, we've stopped trying and we should riot on Elgin's front lawn.
As usual with TAS's posts, this is well done. Although I agree that St. Louis and Dayton are probably out of reach, if I were in charge of the MVC, I'd go camp out on their doorsteps and see if I could get them into the MVC and use them to help keep Wichita. That makes the MVC a much better conference, and keeps the footprint relatively the same. It's also a pipe dream, but then again so were my brackets this year.
Figuring Wichita to be gone, I think you gotta look at the XDSU's up north. And then I'd go with Murray State to get to 12. The XDSU's are attractive for all the reasons stated before, and Murray is a consistently good basketball program over a long period of time. Go to 12, break into divisions, and go from there.
And then get the programs in the Valley to start investing to better their programs! Seriously, if they won't do that, no amount of conference tinkering will achieve anything. This isn't rocket science!!!