The NKU men’s basketball team took on Division I national power, UC in an exhibition game last Saturday. NKU had an impressive showing although they still lost by 13 points. The NKU women’s basketball team is set to take on Division I, Indiana State University in an exhibition game on Nov.13.
This leads me to wonder why aren’t these games played during the regular season. It would allow NKU to see how they stack up against these NCAA Division I schools and get recognition to the successful programs that have been established here.
Well according the men’s Head Coach, Ken Shields, and women’s Head Coach Nancy Winstel, NKU isn’t the one shying away from the competition.
“We’ve tried to play Division I schools ever since our program has started to really succeed,” said Shields. “They just won’t play us. They don’t want to gamble on taking a loss to a Division II opponent.”
“If we would ever get the opportunity to do it we would,” said Winstel. “We just haven’t had a lot of Division I opponents wanting to play us recently.”
There were times in the past when Division I teams would square off against NKU. The men’s team, before they were known as a Division II powerhouse routinely played, and most of the time were beaten by the likes of Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, University of Dayton, and University of Toledo.
“We are always checking in to see if we could schedule some tougher Division I opponents,” said Shields. “They just get a lot of pressure from their conference to make sure if they play smaller schools that it would be an assured win.”
The women’s team has been a little more successful in their bids against Division I opponents. They have faced off and beaten the likes of UC, Robert Morris, Morehead State, Florida Atlantic, Xavier and Louisville in Winstel’s tenure. Recently the opportunity really hasn’t been there.
“We actually had a chance to play the University of Illinois this season,” said Winstel. “However they called us at the last minute, and the date they wanted to schedule a game on wouldn’t have worked because it fell on (December 14), is the day after our tournament, and right before exams.”
On one hand it is great to think that our basketball programs have built such a reputation that, these Division I programs are afraid to play us, but it is also disappointing that none of these bigger schools will play us
While NKU has stepped on the court with the likes of such schools as Xavier, UC and UK, it probably won’t happen soon. The way NCAA Division I is set up, is that it is important to get a good RPI rating, in order to get into the NCAA tournament. In order to get a good RPI rating, you must beat the good teams, and not lose to the bad ones.
A loss to a Division II team such as NKU would be devastating to a Division I team’s RPI. No one wants to take the chance.
” We would without any questions play a Division I school any time,” said Shields. “They just won’t play us.”