It was announced yesterday that the Mountain West would move to an 18-game basketball schedule (here is my story from yesterday) to accommodate its 11 basketball members for the 2013-14 season.
The league has never played more than 16 conference games in a season and would really prefer stay at that number.
Should the Mountain West add a 12th basketball member to the fold (and the league would like to do so), then fans can expect to see the league use a two division set up like it is using for the 12 football members (remember Hawaii is a football-only member) and make a return to the preferred 16-game league format.
With 12 teams and two divisions, a school would continue to play its five fellow division teams home and home every season, eating up 10 league games. That same team would then play all six teams from the other division once a season — three teams at home, three on the road — to fill up the other six league games. The games with teams from the other division would alternate home and away every other year.
As it stands now, a 16-game schedule with 11 basketball members is simply too difficult to make everyone happy because of the variance in who gets the home-and-homes and who plays a particular team only once in a season.
The announced 18-game schedule takes away two non-conference games for a league that is trying to continue gaining national respect with non-conference games, but at least lessens the unfair nature of the unbalanced scheduling an uneven number of teams presents.
A 20-game league schedule would allow a balanced league schedule for 11 basketball members, but it would take four games away from non-conference play, something this league simply can’t afford to do and expect to continue gaining national attention.
My thoughts are that the 18-game, 11-member set up for 2013-14 will be a one-time thing. By 2014-15, there will be 12 basketball members and a return to the 16-game schedule.