By Kevin Sweeney
The Horizon League has added a new member.
According to Tony Paul if the Detroit News, IUPUI has been invited to join the Horizon League. Assuming they accept, they will be the 10th team in the conference, replacing Valparaiso, who left in May to join the Missouri Valley.
The move is stunning on many levels, as it appeared just a few days ago that the Horizon League would stay at 9 teams for the 2017-18 season and then add up to 5 additional teams following the coming season. It’s unclear at this time whether IUPUI will join for this season should they accept this invitation.
In addition, IUPUI was not expected to receive the invitation due to their lack of a baseball team. It had been reported that the Horizon League needed to add a school with a baseball team to maintain enough teams to remain its NCAA Tournament autobid.
However, IUPUI made sense from the perspective of fitting the league’s style of public universities located in cities. IUPUI has a beautiful campus in Indianapolis, an area the Horizon League covers.
From a basketball perspective, IUPUI doesn’t raise the profile of the league too much. The program has struggled recently, but has seen some success early in this millennium, with 3 20-win seasons and 1 NCAA Tournament bid.
Still, I doubt that the Horizon League is done expanding. While expansion is likely done for this offseason, I expect 2-4 more teams to be invited next offseason. Schools such as Robert Morris, Omaha, Grand Canyon, and NMSU figure to receive consideration.
Meanwhile, the Summit League now has a void. While North Dakota will join the league in 2018-19, it remains to be seen whether the Summit will look to add a team. They could add UMKC, a program that recently was in the Summit but left for the WAC.
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