Report: Conference USA & WAC Developing Basketball Non-Conference Scheduling Alliance
It's common to think the worst of Conference USA, which has made some questionable decisions as a league in college athletics over the past decade. But today, reports spilled of a commendable partnership C-USA is developing for basketball with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
According to multiple reports, Conference USA will collaborate with the WAC to develop a multi-year schedule alliance for men's and women's basketball involving non-conference matchups.
First off on the women's side, this could do wonders for both conferences in terms of scheduling home and away non-conference matchups that are both competitive games and, for UTEP/NM State's sake, geographically practical travel-wise.
In the new-look C-USA, there could be some strong competition rising to both conferences. Middle Tennessee is currently atop C-USA and ranks 30th in the NET. For context, UTEP is 120th. In the WAC, Stephen F. Austin has a stellar program and they currently rank 61st in the NET. For the Miners and Aggies, this could open up solid opportunities for quality non-conference matchups. Miner coach Kevin Baker has long stressed the difficulty in schedule-making for head coaches, especially in the world of the transfer portal. This could be a way to alleviate some of the headaches in non-conference schedule-making with potential pre-set matchups with the WAC.
On the men's side, let's take a look at the current standings. I went ahead and crossed off the teams that will be leaving C-USA on the men's side:
2022-23 CONFERENCE USA MEN'S STANDINGS
2022-23 WAC MEN'S STANDINGS
|Stephen F. Austin||11-6||3||19-11|
|UT Rio Grande Valley||6-12||8.5||15-16|
New-Look C-USA Standings & Rankings (Today)
- Liberty (25-9) - NET #39
- Sam Houston State (23-6) - NET #62
- Middle Tennessee (18-11) - NET #108
- LA Tech (13-16) - NET #165
- Western Kentucky (15-14) - NET #171
- UTEP (13-6) - NET #195
- Florida International (13-16) - NET #224
- Jacksonville State (13-18) - NET #239
- NMSU - N/A
The new-look C-USA could stand to be competitive in men's basketball. Sure, the league would lose FAU, who was ranked this year, and North Texas, which had routinely been in contention for league titles. But Liberty is a significant addition for college basketball. Sam Houston State has built a top-100 NET team in the WAC. Middle Tennessee, LA Tech and Western Kentucky are each solid programs. And, even though NM State's season ended in a bombshell, they will be expected to put out a quality product once they return to play knowing their storied tradition of basketball.
Regionally, WAC matchups for non-conference play will make a ton of sense for UTEP and NM State. They could face Texas teams like Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton (and see old friend Billy Gillespie), Abilene Christian, and UT Rio Grande Valley. Utah Valley (#82 in NET) and Southern Utah (#107) are also quality basketball programs. For geographic purposes, I am hoping the Miners get a chance to play Grand Canyon. The Antelopes have strong fan support and the proximity would allow Miner fans to make a road trip if needed. For the Aggies, this would mean playing teams in their old league for non-conference play ahead of their new conference in C-USA.
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