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Mountain West presidents want tougher basketball schedules

Updated June 6, 2017 - 9:55 pm

Mountain West men’s basketball teams won’t get away with playing inferior nonconference schedules any longer.

In their effort to raise the conference’s national profile in the sport, school presidents — who comprise the board of directors — announced Tuesday after their meetings in Santa Barbara, California, that:

■ “Specific metrics” will be used in assembling nonconference schedules.

■ Schools will be given help in balancing home and away games.

■ Athletic directors will work together with coaches “as is typically done in football” in structuring schedules.

The presidents made similar prior changes regarding schedules in volleyball, softball and women’s soccer.

The presidents decided to take action in men’s basketball after the Mountain West became a one-bid league for the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. Until then, the conference routinely sent multiple teams to the field of 68.

Weak nonconference schedules hurt the Mountain West teams’ RPI and Kenpom ratings, which the NCAA selection committee considers when inviting schools to the tournament.

Conference regular-season and tournament champion UNR was 35th in the final 2016-17 RPI rankings and 54th in Kenpom. The next highest RPI ranking was Colorado State (69th) and next top Kenpom team was San Diego State (78th).

Some schools, such as UNLV, play competitive schedules each season. Next season, the Rebels will host Arizona — which could be the nation’s No. 1 team — and Illinois. UNLV coach Marvin Menzies said a contract is being finalized with the Illini.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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