While I was away, the Summit League announced the schedule for conference games during the 2013-14 basketball season. It is, for the second year in a row, a mirror format meaning the men and women face the same schools on the same nights in opposite locations (with a few exceptions). That’s regrettable, but understandable due to the relatively late departure of Oakland for the Horizon League.
Other noteworthy – or at least semi-interesting wrinkles – within the slate:
* Cutting down to only 14 league games means no more awkward single Summit weekend in December. League play starts the second week of Jan. and rolls right through the conference tourney in early March without interruption. Most coaches will see that as a positive.
Likewise, no BracketBusters interruption for the men in February because that event has been put to sleep by ESPN.
* Travel partners go as follows: SDSU-NDSU, Fort Wayne-IUPUI, Omaha-Western Illinois, Denver-USD. The only holdover in the bunch is SDSU-NDSU, a roughly 190-mile drive up I-29. Indy to Fort Wayne is roughly 125 miles, Omaha to Macomb is 350 miles and Denver to Vermillion is 590 miles, although Sioux Falls has direct flights to Denver.
* Barring late changes agreed to by the league and individual schools, there will be only one game not played on a Thursday or Saturday: USD at SDSU women on Feb. 2. That’s to avoid a conflict with the SDSU at USD men on Feb. 1.
So that means, as things stand now, there rest of the SDSU vs. USD and SDSU vs. NDSU games – rivalries for sure – will stick to the mirror format. Hard to see that not hurting attendance and/or media coverage.
* With only seven schools eligible for the conference tourney, the top seed will get a bye in the men’s and women’s event in Sioux Falls. That puts added weight on earning that distinction. It also changes the rhythm of the event, as there only will be two games Saturday –opening day – instead of four.
* The schedule looks reasonable in terms of streaks – consecutive games at home or on the road. For example, the SDSU men won’t play more than three games in a row at home or on the road in league play. They also won’t have any one-game stands at home or on the road. That should allow teams to be more settled in terms of travel and hosting.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.