SEDALIA, Missouri - Eight Division I Men's Basketball teams from Iowa and Missouri will meet in at State Fair Community College on Friday, Nov. 8 to tipoff the inaugural IA-MO Challenge.
Ever since the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Tournament introduced eight at-large bids, teams across the country have been focused on scheduling. A team's strength of schedule has been a big component of the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball selection committee when considerating which teams should be awarded at-large bids to Hutchinson, Kan. each March. With teams from Iowa and Missouri having their bubbles burst in recent years, the two regions have come together to create the IA-MO Challenge.
Brett Monaghan, athletic director of Indian Hills, and head coach Hank Plona were the ones who brought the idea to the table. They approached Pat Smith, head coach of Moberly Area Community College, two years ago and pitched the Challenge. Coach Smith then took it back to Darren Pannier, Region XVI Men's Director and State Fair AD, and the ball kept rolling.
"Strength of schedule was part of it, but also we saw the NCAA Division I schools participating in similar events with the Big 10/ACC Challenge and the Big 12/SEC Challenge," Monaghan said. "With five Division I teams in Iowa and five Division I teams in Missouri, we just thought it might be a unique opportunity."
2019 will mark the first year of the IA-MO Challenge, an event that pairs four Division I teams from Iowa against four teams from Missouri in a two-day event. The first game will tip-off at 2:00 p.m. on Friday when Southeastern faces Missouri-West Plains.
"I think its a long time overdue," Southeastern head coach Lorenzo Watkins said. "When I heard from Hank and Pat, I just told them we need to get it done."
"This will give us a good chance to display our teams in a great environment. It's early enough in the season to really find out where your team is at, and the level you have to play at to win your respective league and get to the National Tournament."
Two ranked teams participating are ranked in the NJCAA preseason poll, No. 6 Indian Hills and No. 9 Moberly Area.
"Teams these days are hardened for good games and to get two Division I games in a tough environment is tremendous," Pat Smith of the 9th-ranked Greyhounds said. "It takes away a couple of home games you can get, but I think it's well worth it. We're playing two good teams including Marshalltown and an Iowa Western team we wouldn't normally play."
In all, eight games will be played over the course of two days, four on Saturday and four on Sunday. The winning region of the IA-MO Challenge will take home a traveling trophy, as in 2020 the teams will meet in West Burlington, Iowa at Southeastern. In 2021 the teams will meet in West Plains, Mo. and in 2022, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"Both regions have great Division I basketball teams and it's a great opportunity for exposure for both our student-athletes and our leagues to showcase NJCAA basketball," Monaghan said.
IA-MO Challenge Schedule:
2:00 PM - Southeastern vs. Missouri-West Plains
4:00 PM - Marshalltown vs. Moberly Area
6:00 PM - Indian Hills vs. Three Rivers
8:00 PM - Iowa Western vs. State Fair
1:00 PM - Southeastern vs. Three Rivers
3:00 PM - Marshalltown vs. Missouri-West Plains
5:00 PM - Iowa Western vs. Moberly Area
7:00 PM - Indian Hills vs. State Fair
Address: 3201 W 16th St., Sedalia, MO 65301