Missouri Valley Conference Expansion

A month ago Missouri Valley Conference member Wichita State announced that they were leaving the conference after 72 years to join the American Athletic Conference. It’s the 2nd big blow to the conference after the loss of Creighton to the Big East 4 years ago. Wichita and Creighton are national basketball brands that brought a level of prestige to the conference that can’t be replaced. After the loss of Creighton, the MVC brought in Loyola of Chicago. It appears that the conference is looking to add Valparaiso.

Valpo brings basketball pedigree and have made the NCAA Tournament 9 times since 1996. In 1998, Bryce Drew hit a buzzer beater to knock out Ole Miss as the Crusaders advanced to the Sweet 16. The Crusaders play in the Athletics-Recreation Center, with a capacity of 5,432. It has a fan base that is known to travel well, something sorely needed after losing the fan bases of Creighton and Wichita. With the conference still holding their conference tournament in St. Louis, they need a fan base that will make the trip each year.

Murray State is another program that is hoping for an invite from the MVC. Other programs mentioned include Nebraska-Omaha, UW-Milwaukee, Missouri-Kansas City, Belmont, Oral Roberts, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. It appears that Doug Elgin would like to keep the conference at 10 members. I believe when you look at a program continuing to build, North Dakota State makes a lot of sense. It has a fan base that travels. In football, 10s of thousands of people have flocked to Texas for the national championship game yearly. When they played Kansas in Minneapolis in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, many thought they outdrew the Jayhawk fans. It is a growing fan base, that is willing to travel. It is a school that has an endowment of $138 million. And the oil boom in North Dakota has given many disposable income.

An expansion to 12 teams make sense. You’re cutting the revenue pie a couple of extra ways, but growing the conference is important with these defections. I’d propose a 2 division line up, playing your division mates in home in homes in basketball while playing the other division teams with 3 single plays and 3 more home and homes. That is 19 conference games.

North Division

Bradley

Drake

Loyola

* North Dakota State

Northern Iowa

* Valpo

South Division

Evansville

Illinois State

Indiana State

Missouri State

* Murray State

Southern Illinois