May 24, 2011, 4:29 PM EDT
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is headed toward its 13th year. The Big East/SEC Challenge finally made itself into a marquee event. The Missouri Valley and Mountain West will be in its third year. It’s a manufactured event, sure, but one that works when done well.
(Except the Big 12 and Pac-10. They had their chance.)
So why not extend things? Start with the Horizon League vs. the MAC.
As Chris Burrows writes over at ChicagoNow.com, it’s a natural pairing considering that Horizon and MAC teams played 28 times during the 2010-11 season. The Horizon fared better in those games (17-11), but it’d feature solid matchups and make for reasonable travel.
Under my proposed HL/MAC Challenge format, which would require little in the way of extra travel since these conferences are geographically similar (if you switch out Wisconsin for western New York), the ten Horizon League teams would all get two games against MAC opponents. That means two of the 12 MAC teams would only get to play one game each in the challenge for a total of 20 games.
You won’t see high-majors playing 20 game challenges. No way.
Of course teams would get one home game and one away game every season (except for the two MAC teams) and teams would be matched based on their resumes.
As for other conferences, not every league has a natural pairing – or would draw many fans — but some would be intriguing.
An America East-Patriot League would make sense in terms of regions and comparable teams, though I’m not sure fans are clamoring for it. Same for Southern-Big South or Big Sky-Big West events. I’d like to think a WCC-WAC challenge would work, but not with the WAC in a constant state of flux. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing ‘em.
But here’s one that should happen: A Colonial Athletic-Atlantic 10 Challenge.
Many CAA schools are public and have larger enrollments than most of the A-10 schools, but they’re comparable in terms of athletic expenses, and overall basketball success, though the A-10 schools do spend more on hoops.
When teams matched up last season in various scheduling, the CAA was 9-7 vs. the A-10, which did includes matchups between Xavier and ODU, George Mason and Charlotte, VCU and Richmond and of course Drexel and St. Joe’s.
Would conference officials and school presidents be able to make this one happen given the teams already vie against each other on a regular basis? Seems doable, right?
UPDATE: John Templon crunched some numbers and developed a proposed schedule. The first three games alone would make the event worthwhile.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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