Missouri Valley, Mountain West announce return of annual Challenge

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After meeting in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge for four seasons from 2009-2013, the Mountain West and Missouri Valley conferences took last season off. Thursday morning the leagues formally announced the return of the Challenge, something that was first reported earlier this year.

All ten Missouri Valley teams will participate in the challenge, with ten of the Mountain West’s 11 teams getting a spot as well. San Jose State, which won just two games this season, won’t participate in next year’s event. Factors such as team strength, their finish to the prior season and expectations for the upcoming campaign will be used in putting together the schedule, as will RPI numbers.

When it comes to the better teams in both leagues, the Challenge should give them another quality non-conference game on the schedule. While this hasn’t been much of an issue for teams such as Wichita State, San Diego State and UNLV, there are other programs in both leagues that haven’t found adding games to their schedule to be an easy task.

Colorado State just missed out on this year’s NCAA tournament, and their non-conference strength of schedule was viewed as the main culprit.

The conferences also released the schedule for the Challenge games to be played next season, with the event consisting of ten games to be played from November 13 to December 20. In future seasons the challenge will be played within a nine-day period beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, which is a better setup when it comes to drumming up interest for such an event.

November 13: Illinois State at San Diego State
November 13: Air Force at Southern Illinois
November 14: Colorado State at Northern Iowa
November 16: Wyoming at Indiana State
November 18: Loyola (IL) at New Mexico
December 1: Utah State at Missouri State
December 2: UNLV at Wichita State
December 12: Drake at Nevada
December 20: Bradley at Boise State
December 20: Evansville at Fresno State

The two conferences also had a fun exchange via Twitter earlier Thursday, that ended with the formal acceptance (and announcing) of the challenge (clicking on the tweets will reveal the entire conversation):