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Wichita State University Makes Historic Conference Switch

Cooper Steiner, Web Editor

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No longer is the Wichita State University (WSU) men’s basketball team’s rise to prominence a “Cinderella” story. Over the past several seasons the program has cemented its spot in the college basketball world as a team to beat.

It is because of this rise to fame that their previous conference, the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), brings down their high caliber of performance. I believe that the teams in the MVC are simply not enough competition for the elite basketball program that is rising from the Great Plains in Wichita, Kansas. With the exodus of the only other team capable of consistently giving WSU any real challenge, Creighton University, WSU decided to start a search for better competition.

Competing against the College of Charleston Nov. 13, Wichita State University (WSU) sophomore guard Landry Shamet drives to the basket in their 81-63 win. The American Athletic Conference will feature fierce competition for WSU, as it leaves the MVC this year. photo courtesy of Wichita State University.

The perfect fit came from an unanticipated conference. The American Athletics Conference (AAC) consists of universities from all across the country from Connecticut to Florida to Texas. There is one big advantage for WSU in joining this conference. The previous deterrent in WSU’s search for a new home conference was their lack of a football team. The AAC includes the United States Naval Academy (Navy). The Navy only participates in football in the AAC, so WSU is a perfect complement to fill the missing gap of every sport besides football.

The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) will suffer greatly from losing one of its oldest and most prestigious universities, WSU, having joined the MVC in 1945. The MVC will also suffer from losing its biggest fan base. Sold-out games are a common occurrence at WSU men’s basketball home games, and their fans are known to travel great distances to watch their team play.

Along with this, I think MVC will experience a significant drop in post-season profit. According to USA Today, those profits are critical to the finances of the conference. The March Madness (the NCAA post-season tournament) runs made by teams in the conference also add to the level of respect and enhance the perception of the conference across the country. Without men’s basketball powerhouse programs such as WSU and Creighton, it will be unlikely to see a deep March Madness run from any MVC team.

Overall, I believe the AAC is a much better conference for the Shockers. WSU will greatly benefit from better competition across all sports. The caliber of women’s basketball in the AAC is supported by the most successful women’s basketball program in the country, the University of Connecticut. Connecticut has won 11 NCAA National Championships (1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). With men’s basketball teams such as the University of Connecticut, which has won four national championships (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014), and the University of Memphis, runner-up to the University of Kansas in the 2008 national championship, the men’s side of the conference has a long history of basketball excellence as well. WSU is no longer a wolf among sheep having finally found itself in an appropriate conference, fans will be sure to see exciting and challenging competition throughout the season.

Cooper Steiner, Web Editor

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Wichita State University Makes Historic Conference Switch