Because conference play starts in two days and it’s an excuse to talk about what is likely the worst travel pairing in the entirety of division two men’s basketball.
In order of easiest to most challenging:
St. Martin’s & Western Oregon
Lacey, WA – Monmouth, OR
Difficulty rating: 5th
Individually neither school ranks at the bottom; NNU and SFU definitely hold down the basement in terms of atmosphere. The problem is that together as a back-to-back, they’re mediocre. WOU can be difficult, SMU can be difficult (particularly when their score keeper is liable not to record points of the opposing team) but in terms of the back-to-back there isn’t much threat of getting swept.
Central Washington & Northwest Nazarene
Ellensburg, WA – Nampa, ID
Difficulty rating: 4th
Being in the middle of nowhere has it’s advantages: CWU always plays tough at home and Ellensburg is a fun place to play. With a huge core of players in the GNAC coming from Washington state, Central is in fact central-ly located, leading to a great opportunity for opposing families to come and watch. NNU fans really give an honest effort but they suffer from the Boise State effect; they’re fifteen minutes away from the biggest game in town, and so while they have their faithful… no.
Simon Fraser & Western Washington
Burnaby, BC – Bellingham, WA
Difficulty rating: 3rd
Carver is a difficult place to play. There have at times been issues getting players cleared to travel into Canada from the USA and thus teams go into Burnaby short staffed. Any trip that includes WWU is going to be difficult, but… what makes SFU difficult is the fact that you either play them BEFORE Western Washington or AFTER Western Washington; if they can convince you to overlook them… they can and will beat you.
Seattle Pacific & MSU-Billings
Seattle, WA – Billings, MT
Difficulty rating: 2nd
This is probably the weirdest travel partner arrangement in all of division two and it has a great X-factor in that both gyms are difficult to play in. MSUB rarely loses a game at home and their gym is incredibly echo-y. SPU has the disadvantage of being near UW and Seattle U., but also gets the advantage of being located in Seattle: not only do they get their own supporters, they get a bunch of parents, friends, and former rivals from the opposing team. Noise is noise, right?
Alaska Anchorage & Alaska Fairbanks
Anchorage and Fairbanks
Difficulty rating: 1st
The Alaska schools receive the top spot for most challenging travel weekend:
- four+ hour flight to the first game
- weird place in the time zone
- great home court advantages
- both teams usually have a winning record
Big men on long flights; it’s just a bad idea. The time zone thing sounds ridiculous, but you’d be better off staying on GMT-8 in terms of when the sun rises and sets. Both teams enjoy the advantage of being the biggest basketball program in town, and then they also combine for the fact that they usually have a winning record. As such, a team has come in and won both games only three times in GNAC history.
Who’s excited for conference play? We are. And we admittedly forgot that this post was set on “pending” and so it went up the day OF conference play rather than two days ago. Sorry. Go Salmon! <— The decided (by us) collective mascot of our conference because there needs to be something to express conference pride.