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Missouri Valley Commissioner Pushing for Big 12 Opportunity, Conference Doubleheader Possible

Early rumors of a Midwestern showdown surface. Could the Big 12 agree to face off against the Missouri Valley?

Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall sees you Big 12, and he wants to play you. If MVC Commissioner Elgin gets his way then he will.
Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall sees you Big 12, and he wants to play you. If MVC Commissioner Elgin gets his way then he will.

The sign of a good leader is being able to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. For the Missouri Valley there are two major opportunities. The first is a potential expansion after Creighton's departure. The second opportunity is of course Wichita State's advancement to the Final Four.

According to Kellis Robinett of The Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star, Missouri Valley Commissioner Doug Elgin may be trying to turn this tournament's success into big games for the Valley:

Just because Elgin wants to set up a doubleheader with the Big 12 doesn't mean it will actually happen or that the Big 12 is really interested at all. I don't think, though, that Elgin would pass along that sort of information to a reporter if his initial overtures were met with a "thanks, but no thanks," so there may be some chance of this Midwestern showdown actually happening. I am skeptical however because Robinett is the only primary news source to report this rumor.

The potential benefit to the Valley is clear: Some of the Valley schools have difficulty arranging a home-and-home series with larger schools that don't have any reason to go on the road to a smaller school. A neutral-court double header could help the MVC get some marquee matchups. What would the benefit be for the Big 12, though?

Robinett reports Elgin's reasoning:

"I think the upside of Wichita State going to the Final Four is everybody knows your name. The downside is people aren’t going to want to risk playing you, but we are hoping to get Big 12 teams involved. It would be an attractive set of games."

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Good nonconference matchups could be the key to convince the Big 12 to participate in the doubleheader. Although scheduling quality mid-majors is sometimes an anathema to major conference teams, Wichita State's Final Four run could make them an attractive game for a Big 12 bubble team. For these teams a WSU game wouldn't be a game against the Sisters of the Poor where wins do little good because you're supposed to beat them, but loses are embarrassing. Instead, a win looks strong on the resume, while a potential loss looks a little bit less humiliating. After all, they beat Gonzaga and Ohio State last season, right?

If Elgin's wildest dreams come true and it's assumed that this doubleheader happens, what sort of games can we expect? We can rule out Iowa State versus either Northern Iowa or Drake -- the four major universities of Iowa already will be playing each other -- and Wichita State against Kansas. Bill Self has already made it clear that big brother won't be playing little brother any time soon.

On the Valley side of the equation Robinett's conjecture is that Missouri State would be the second team. The Bears would make sense considering possible location and the school's closer proximity to the Big 12 schools as opposed to Bradley or Indiana State. The con to the Bears' participation is that they finished second to last in the Valley last season, so there would be little guarantee of them being an RPI boost or quality win for a team like Kansas State or Oklahoma.

For the Big 12, I find it unlikely that any of the Texas schools or West Virginia would be pining to travel to Kansas City, so I think the possible teams would be Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, or Oklahoma State.

Even if it doesn't happen, you can't blame Elgin for trying to capitalize on the first Valley Final Four team since Larry Bird.