Several online sources have confirmed that the SIU men’s basketball team will square off with Mountain West opponent San Jose State at SIU Arena at a time to be determined this coming season.
It will be one of 10 MVC versus MWC Challenge games. Those games will be played at various venues late next fall and early winter.
This conference series has been going on for the past few years, mainly to help the two mid-major leagues schedule at least one quality non-conference team for the season. San Jose State finished this past season with a 14-16 record, but they played a solid schedule and will have many veterans returning for next season.
The Spartans return Brandon Clarke, Ryan Welage and Terrell Brown as the young core of next year’s team. The top player for the Spartans is thes sophomore Clarke.
Clarke, a first team Mountain West player, was also a member of the Conference’s All-Defensive team. He averaged 17.3 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game. He also blocked a record 77 opponents’ shots as a rim protector.
In fact, the SIU versus San Jose game should be a “Block Party” next year between Clark and SIU’s returning senior power forward Thik Bol, who recorded 76 blocks this past season and transfer center Kavion Pippen, who stuffed more than 50 shots.
Also contributing were Spartan returnees 6’-9” Welage (13.2 ppg/ 4.5 rpg) and freshman Brown (7.2 ppg). The rest of the league match-ups may help the MVC raise its Conference RPI, which has been sagging the last few years.
The MVC was rated as the 12th best RPI-rated conference last season and the MWC’s RPI was the 10th best. If the Valley teams win a majority of these matchups, they should marginally raise their conference’s RPI profile for the nonconference season.