Highlights of the week ahead:
▪ WSU is scheduled to play New Mexico State on Tuesday (Cox Kansas, KEYN, 103-7-FM). Tip is TBA. We’re waiting on the Aggies to arrive. As of Monday around 11:30, they were working on a charter flight to escape the snowy clutches of the Las Cruces-El Paso metroplex.
The Shockers (6-5) open Missouri Valley Conference play on Thursday against Drake (1 p.m.) at Koch Arena. WSU wants to play Tuesday’s game early to rest for Drake (5-7), so the likely scenarios are an afternoon or late afternoon men’s game before the women’s game.
The Shockers play at Bradley (2-11) at 1 p.m. Sunday (Cox Kansas, KEYN, 103.7-FM).
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▪ WSU’s women’s team plays Oklahoma Christian on Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) in an exhibition game. The Shockers (3-8) open MVC play at Indiana State (4-7) at 6:05 p.m. Friday (ESPN3, KNSS, 1330-AM).
WSU continues its road trip at Illinois State (2-8) at 2 p.m. Sunday (ESPN3, KNSS, 1330-AM).
▪ WSU routed Nevada 98-69 on Tuesday with a dominant effort aided by record foul shooting.
With WSU evaluating its athletic department and putting the return of football under examination, it’s worth acknowledging how much Shockers basketball benefits from schools who pump resources into football teams. In recent seasons, the Shockers played guarantee games against UAB, Southern Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico State, all schools that ask their basketball teams to go on the road without a return to help the budget.
Buying programs of those caliber are great values. In 2012, Southern Miss finished the season with a No. 27 RPI after losing 59-51 at Intrust Bank Arena. Nevada, a member of the Mountain West Conference, isn’t far removed from a strong run. New Mexico State is usually between 50-100 in the RPI and dominates the WAC.
That is a much better investment than playing a team from SWAC or MEAC for a win that damages or doesn’t help RPI or strength of schedule.
Propping up a football program in Conference USA and similar conferences often means other programs sacrifice and the Shockers are wisely exploiting that advantage.
Monday’s reading recommendation
Sports Illustrated: The biggest question facing the league is philosophical: Is a bigger league actually stronger? Expansion is a potential step, and it appears that BYU and Cincinnati would be the favorites to be invited to the conference if it expanded today. However, if there were obvious and lucrative ways to expand the league and enhance revenue, the Big 12 would have taken those steps long ago.