Mountain West Basketball: Next Week’s Revised Schedule Announced, Against Coaches Wishes
Games will attempt to be played with “overall schedule integrity” in mind among other variables.
Conference leaders decide on revised schedules for men’s and women’s basketball.
With the recent news that the Mountain West Conference Tournament will be played without fans in attendance this year released this week. The conference also worked to finalize plans on how the end of the season will look.
As first broke by Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune last night.
The Mountain West has ultimately decided to take advantage of next week’s open available to try and makeup some lost games.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) February 23, 2021
All of this comes after recent chatter from those around the conference, stated they wouldn’t force makeup games on teams who had postponed or cancelled series prior.
But given the role broadcasting deals play in this sport we all love, we must remember contracts are involved and need to be satisfied as best they can given financial uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) February 23, 2021
Commissioner Craig Thompson made the call this time around, compared to a usual vote of conference member representation on matters involving the entire conference.
“The Conference office was charged by the membership with determining the optimal plan for rescheduling games which had been postponed during the course of the regular season,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson. “This presented a very complex equation which included contemplating several variables, but this approach provides each institution the opportunity to control its own destiny over the final two weeks of the regular season and through the course of the Mountain West tournament.”
Among those variables mentioned were, “potential NCAA tournament impacts, the overall competitive integrity of the league schedule, implications for the final regular-season standings and seeding for the Conference tournament, television contractual obligations, input from multiple league constituents and the cadence of the remaining schedule.”
CBS and Fox Sports have broadcasted Mountain West matchups all season long across their sports platforms. Cancellations and postponements were a given, especially with the situation the entire country is still in. So trying to reschedule those postponed series always seemed on the table.
But nothing was made official or rumored until this past week, when Zeigler stated a source mentioned that teams would be forced to play to help satisfy those broadcasting deals.
Contracts are contracts, and whether businesses everywhere are giving entities tied up in said contracts any wiggle room during the pandemic is beyond me. But as mentioned above, many factors were considered with the best outcome for the conference as a whole was made.
Teams that were given a pass to any forced matchups, are those who played each team at least once over the course of the season. The only team left out of the lineup though, was Air Force. Who should wrap up their 20-game conference slate on March 1st against Colorado State.
This comes with the minimum game threshold in the conference’s broadcasting deal in mind and maybe that needing to be met to receive the max payout possible. Sixteen games have already been lost, and next weeks open availability was left as such to prepare for the possibility of making up possibly lost games from the start.
Still, the uncertainty surrounding how many teams would even be in the field come March Madness time appears to be the uncontrollable variable. Why walk out on guaranteed money from TV broadcasting companies when multi-bids to the NCAA Tournament aren’t promised. Some coaches don’t care and think this is the wrong choice.
Preserving the Resumes
Of course unnecessary possible exposure to Covid-19 is one cause for concern for coaches around the league. As teams would travel and play one or two games next week return home and the following week be bound for Las Vegas.
But at least five coaches (per Zeigler’s source) around the conference don’t see it necessary, and would instead hope to avoid needless blemishes on their already light tournament resumes.
For some programs these are simply make up games and a chance to climb higher in the standings with a better seed in the conference tournament on the line. But for others like No. 22 ranked San Diego State who appears to be a front runner for any sort of at-large bid coming out of the conference, the stakes are higher.
“I hope the league makes a decision that allows the Mountain West to get the most teams in the NCAA Tournament,” Dutcher said earlier this month when asked about the UNLV series. “If that means we don’t play those games, then that’s what I’m in favor of. If (they) feel it’s better to play those games, then that’s what we’ll end up having to do. But in my opinion, we’d be better off not running the risk of playing those games for the teams that are already in solid positions.”
For the Aztecs as well the likes of Colorado State and Utah State who hold wins over Brian Dutchers squad. Games next week simply pose a threat to already weakened at-large resumes.
The Bottom Line
But still, although we all are in love with the sport itself, we must remember it is money that makes the world go round.
As Zeigler mentioned in his article, a team selected or automatically placed in the NCAA Tournament field equates to about $280,000 paid out each year following the tournament. That is just for making the field, any advancements mean further cashflow into conferences that are struggling everywhere.
But remember, nothing is guaranteed if you take the route of preserving NCAA Tournament hopes for maybe one-to-two teams at best. Not when a $270 million/over 6-years broadcast deal has minimums to be satisfied. Divided over the 6-years and with no third-tier add-ons involved, your looking at $45 million dollars at stake for Football and Basketball coverage.
Commissioner Thompson said all things were considered, but I bet preserving this level of incoming cash flow was certainly atop the list and weighed against all other factors.
Left off the docket
Among the games not rescheduled next week were New Mexico at Colorado State, Colorado State at Nevada, Nevada at San José State, San Diego State at UNLV, UNLV at Wyoming and Wyoming at Utah State. As well as New Mexico hosting San Diego State back on February 3rd and 5th. That series was declared a forfeit by the parties involved, resulting in two wins being awarded to the Aztecs.
Now how many games actually get played next week is another question, but the schedule is up with updates to be announced as tipoff times are agreed upon by parties involved. We’ll see you next week folks, thanks for reading.
Next Week’s Schedule:
Tuesday, March 2
Fresno State at Boise State (CBSSN) 5 p.m. MT
Wednesday, March 3
Nevada at San José State (Stadium) TBA
New Mexico at Colorado State (MWN) TBA
San Diego State at UNLV (CBSSN) 6 p.m. PT
Thursday, March 4
Wyoming at Utah State (FS1) 7:30 p.m. MT
Friday, March 5
Colorado State at Nevada (CBSSN) 6 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 6
Utah State at Fresno State (FS1) 8 p.m. PT
UNLV at Wyoming (CBSSN) 9 p.m. MT
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.