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How did WSU end up with Arkansas-Monticello?

I took some vacation last week, not knowing I would miss the announcement of the final piece of WSU’s schedule. On Friday, WSU announced a game with NCAA Division II Arkansas-Monticello on Nov. 18 as part of the CBE Classic.

News releases of this sort are usually vanilla. Not in this case. WSU took the effort to quote coach Gregg Marshall, who made it clear, politely as possible, that he is unhappy with a Division II school on his schedule."However, we are disappointed that we are playing a non-Division I team,” he said. “On a good note, the game will not affect our RPI in any way. We preferred to play a Division I team, but the CBE was put in a precarious situation when one of the teams pulled out, which in-turn put us in a tough situation, because the CBE had difficult time completing the field. In doing that, we get a non-Division I opponent.” The unnamed school that pulled out is Illinois-Chicago, according to Brian Halligan of The Gazelle Group, organizers of the CBE Classic. A UIC official denied that last week. Halligan, on Monday, said UIC was once a part of the event. Unofficial schedules circulating this summer turned out to be accurate, except for Illinois-Chicago’s spot. That schedule had UIC in the tournament, playing at Iowa. Then the Flames flickered out.

“They were really very, very difficult to work with,” Halligan said.So instead of Texas-San Antonio (WSU’s opponent earlier in the summer), WSU gets Arkansas-Monticello. Texas-San Antonio won 19 games last season and earned an RPI ranking of No. 185. With three starters back, the Roadrunners should be one of the Southland Conference’s better teams. In other words, they could be a legit opponent and one that might be an RPI help. If nothing else, playing UTSA gives WSU a chance at a DI win.

WIth UIC out, UTSA is playing at Iowa and WSU is left with the Division II opponent.“It’s been very difficult scheduling,” Halligan said. “Unfortunately, things didn’t work out.”Certainly not for WSU. The Shockers are playing five schools with RPIs of 285 or worse in 2009. They could have used help from a better opponent in the CBE. Does it matter? It’s worth remembering this episode come March if WSU is fighting for a spot in a post-season tournament.