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The Mountain West and Missouri Valley conferences will face one another annually as their Challenge Series gets a reboot, it was announced Thursday.
This new Challenge Series will feature matchups of 10 MW and 10 MVC teams every season, with each conference hosting five games a piece.
“Bringing back the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge is mutually beneficial for both leagues,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson in a press release today. “Improving overall non-conference schedules and providing quality opponents is important to the Mountain West. Aligning with another consistent Top-10 RPI league has proven to be successful as demonstrated during the last Challenge Series with the Missouri Valley from 2009-2013.”
During those four years, the Mountain West dominated with a 22-13 combined record. Matchups will now be decided by looking at the previous year's records, advancements and RPI as well as projected strength of teams for the next season in order to hopefully schedule evenly matched squads.
When the two conferences competed against one another a few years ago, Colorado State enjoyed mixed results, going 2-2 overall. The Rams lost each game on the road and won both at home. In 2009, they lost at Indiana State (65-60), defeated Drake inside Moby Arena (78-67), lost to the University of Northern Iowa in 2011 (83-77) and then beat Evansville in 2012 (79-72).
This year, they'll face UNI for a second time, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UNI is coming off a stellar 31-4 season, hitting No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll at one point, and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. CSU's 27-7 record was a school-best, the Rams made it to No. 24 in the polls, but were ultimately snubbed come tourney time.
On paper, it sounds like a great matchup. The game is scheduled for Nov. 14, though the time and television details are not decided at the moment.
UNI is Colorado State's second big-time non-conference opponent for the 2015-16 season as the Rams travel to play Kansas State at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas on Dec. 19. CSU needs multiple notable non-conference opponents to help build that strength of schedule and avoid being snubbed again. They'll “host” K-State at Denver's Pepsi Center in 2016.