Well, this is how I expected it to shake out – really the best possible solution to a tough problem (twelve teams in the league and only 28 conference games allowed).
The traditional travel partners will remain the same (North Dakota/St. Cloud State, Michigan Tech/Minnesota-Duluth, Denver/Colorado College, Minnesota/Wisconsin, and Minnesota State-Mankato/Alaska-Anchorage), with the addition of Bemidji State being paired with Nebraska-Omaha.
In 2010-11, UND and SCSU will be joined by BSU and UNO to form a four-team “cluster“. The Sioux will play each team in the cluster four times (two games each at home and away) for a total of 12 games. North Dakota will then play the remaining eight teams in the league two games each, for a total of 16 games, with eight on the road and eight at home. Home series in 2010-11 for the Sioux include Alaska-Anchorage, Denver, Minnesota, and Duluth. UND will travel to Colorado College, Michigan Tech, Mankato and Wisconsin.
The “cluster mates” will rotate in each of the five seasons. In 2011-12 UND and SCSU will be joined by Minnesota and Wisconsin. In that season, UND will also host CC, Tech, Mankato, and UNO. The Fighting Sioux will travel to UAA, BSU, Denver, and UMD (in addition to their cluster mates) in 2011-12.
Under this schedule every team in the league will play every other team at home three out of five years (except for the travel partners, who will play each other four times every year). Over the course of the five year schedule, every team plays every other team the same amount of times – home and away.
Tell me what you think. Do you like the new system? Which teams benefit the most? How do you see the league race being affected year in and year out?
As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, suggestions, and comments.