Wichita State Move Good For School and AAC
Just when you thought conference realignment was dead, it reminds you, as in the case of the Wichita State Shockers, that it was just napping.
Another team is switching conferences, but this time, it’s not driven by football. The Wichita State Shockers are on their way to the American Athletic Conference, thanks to the prominence of their basketball team.
Wichita State will be an American Athletic Conference member in everything, with the notable exception of football. This is because the Shockers don’t have a team, but they may choose to reconsider that. Hey, in a couple years they could probably beat Kansas.
Wichita State: One Conference Falls, Another Rises
Escaping the Missouri Valley Conference does significant harm to that league, in which Illinois State is now the undisputed best team. In so doing, the profile of the AAC is conversely raised. For a conference like the American that was missing some key contenders this year, inserting the Shockers into this mix raises the profile of all involved.
For example, you have the potential for nice regional rivalries with Tulsa, Memphis, or even Houston or SMU. If the Mustangs are as good in the coming years as they were in 2016-17, those should be excellent games. Wichita State will also get to play the likes of Cincinnati, Temple, and UConn, teams they wouldn’t otherwise see often. It’s an expansive conference in terms of area, but the quality of basketball should benefit.
The poor MVC will eventually scrape the bottom of the barrel to replace Wichita State. Some athletic director in the Summit League or Horizon League is getting a phone call about it this weekend, of that you can be sure. That conference is a far cry from the one we saw a decade ago, getting four teams into the tournament.
Let’s consider for a moment the following thesis statement: The Missouri Valley Conference was holding Wichita State back. The West Coast Conference holds Gonzaga back only to the extent that their schedule is less impressive than other prime contenders. In much the same way, the Shockers are limited in what they can do inside conference play — except win every game. As we saw frequently, it was possible for the Shockers to broadcast a national presence from within the MVC. It’ll just be a lot easier now within the confines of the American.