Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Southwest and South Central

Hey, there's a lot of conferences out there so, at least for now, let's see if we can't multi-task a little bit. Today: the Southwest and the South Central. Adjacent on the map, both with mostly AA but a AAA team or two, too.


Marshall enrollment 699 boys 151-71 girls 153-77
Worthington 563 boys 129-79 girls 159-57
Redwood Valley 353 boys 141-73 girls 87-118
Jackson 310 boys 71-127 girls 136-78
Luverne 310 boys 87-119 girls 75-109
Pipestone 287 boys 92-126 girls 131-63
Windom 247 boys 115-99 girls 61-138

All are AA except Marshall, which is AAA. The results follow the enrollments fairly well. The Redwood and Windom boys and the Jackson and Pipestone girls are out-performing their numbers, but the Big Two are otherwise doing what you'd expect. The issue here is that Marshall and Worthington are just too big for the other conference members, but there's nobody else for them to play out in that kneck of the woods. Or is there? Well, that and the fact that only 7 schools belong to the conference, not a number that anybody would hope for.

South Central

New Ulm enrollment 589 boys 48-150 girls 59-129
Waseca 522 boys 70-126 girls 104-96
Fairmont 494 boys 118-75 girls 135-61
St. Peter 492 boys 94-105 girls 96-106
Blue Earth 322 boys 131-75 girls 143-66
St. James 292 boys 50-147 girls 94-104

Here, there are only 6 teams, again illustrating how hard it is for Greater Minnesota teams above class A to find peers out there. New Ulm and Waseca are AAA, the rest are all AA. And all you can say is New Ulm's not a basketball town and Blue Earth is. Fairmont, too, while the Waseca boys also under-perform their enrollment.

Other AA and AAA Schools in the Area

In Class AAA, Marshall, New Ulm and Waseca are in Sections 1 and 2. All of Waseca's partners in 1AAA are already slated to move into the new Big Nine (that is to say, in my Fantasy Big Nine). In 2AAA, you've got one candidate for a new conference in Hutchinson. Dassel-Cokato and Willmar (also in 2AAA) are considered to be too far north, and Willmar has also already been permitted to remain in the Central Lakes.

In AA you've got scads of possible rivals for the Southwest and South Central Conference teams, if a 6 and a 7-member conference violate your sense of order, as they do mine. From 2AA you've got:

• Belle Plaine, Jordan, LeSueur, Montgomery and Sibley East of the Minnesota River, a nice, orderly 8-team conference all in class AA, so I'm not inclined to mess with it

• NRHEG, United South Central and Waterville-E-M, who are altogether too big for the Gopher Conference

• Maple River, who has feasted on a bunch of class A opponents in the Valley Conference long enough

Hutchinson enrollment 762 boys 96-117 girls 108-104
Maple River 295 boys 189-48 girls 120-92
NRHEG 264 boys 119-100 girls 180-49
Waterville-EM 251 boys 165-56 girls 121-93
United South Central 210 boys 118-94 girls 100-109

In 3AA:

• Benson, BOLD, Lac Qui Parle Valley, Montevideo, Morris and Yellow Medicine East of the sprawling West Central Conference, which at least consists entirely of AA schools

• Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop and Minnesota Valley Lutheran of the Tomahawk, which is otherwise a Class A conference

• Lake Crystal/Wellcome Memorial and Martin County West, also of the Valley

• Tracy-Milroy-Balaton which I believe to be the only AA school in the Camden

Montevideo 372 boys 156-39 girls 80-127
Morris 295 boys 122-82 girls 94-101
Benson 282 boys 137-77 girls 107-96
Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 265 boys 133-84 girls 73-136
Yellow Medicine East 252 boys 55-147 girls 113-86
Lac Qui Parle Valley 250 boys 77-108 girls 99-110
BOLD 237 boys 65-180 girls 50-152
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 221 boys 111-97 girls 63-138
Martin County West 214 boys 152-61 girls 107-82
Lake Crystal-Wellcome 209 boys 125-88 girls 118-101
Minnesota Valley Lutheran 205 boys 147-70 girls 176-48

All of these teams (one more time) are AA playing in conferences with 1 or more class A school. You could say that the Montevideo boys are feasting, but not the girls. The Morris, Benson and GFW boys are doin' OK but not the girls. Martin County may appear to be feasting but seriously their enrollment is just a dozen or so kids more than the bigger Class A schools.

What's the Problem?

This is all just Fantasy League stuff, of course. I don't find fault with schools that are trying hard to keep their travel costs low and stuff like that. Still, the problem in my Fantasy League is teams that are winning or losing too much against schools that are either a lot bigger or a lot smaller than they are. And there's some of that out in southwestern Minnesota, probably because travel cost can be an issue out in the wide open spaces out thattaway.

And the schools that stand out are Marshall, Hutchinson, Maple River and Montevideo.

Marshall. There's nothing that can be done. So they're bigger and they're dominant in the Southwest. There simply is nobody else to play out there. I mean, Sioux Falls Washington, sure (enrollment 2,000).  t's a non-conference game, but they play 'em, home and home. Sioux Falls Lincoln and Roosevelt (enrollment 1,900 and 2,000). They play 'em both. Willmar (994). It's a non-conference game, but they play 'em. Mankato West (1,100). They play 'em. Hutchinson. They play 'em. But otherwise, south and west of a line from Mankato to St. Cloud, there is not another school (besides Willmar, Hutch and the Mankatos) that is bigger than Marshall. There is just nobody else out there to play.

Hutch. Hutch has hardly been "feasting." The boys and girls are a combined 204-221 over the past 8 years. But here's the thing. They've moved from the Missota to the Wright County Conference, and the Wright is the most illogical conference anywhere in the state of Minnesota right now. Something like 2 of the 9 schools in it are actually located in Wright County. And it's split up into AAA (6 schools) and AA (3 schools). So the fact is that Hutch is going to start feasting sometime soon. Of course, if it moved to the South Central or the Southwest the same would be true and it would be traveling further than it does in the Wright County. Glencoe is 15 miles away, Dassel 15, Litch 32, Waconia maybe 40. If you go south, the closest South Central Conference school is New Ulm, 47 miles away. If you go Southwest, Redwood Valley is the closest school and it's 70 miles. So stay where you are. For now.

Maple River. With the break between AA and A at about 200, there's a bunch of AA schools in mixed (AA-A) conferences in the 205-210-220-230 range who are clearly not feasting, who are playing class A schools at 175-180, and those are pretty good rivalries, pretty good conferences. Great. But Maple River at 295 (among others), well, it's just too much. So I'd like to see a new conference consisting of:

New Conference

Maple River (295) boys and girls combined for 309 wins in 8 years
NRHEG (264) 299
Waterville (251) 286
Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (265) 206 but boys are feasting in the Tomahawk
Minnesota Valley Lutheran (only 205) but a fantastic 323 wins (why do you think New Ulm High has only won a combined 107 games over 8 years?)

Plus Pipestone (287) 223 wins
Windom (247) 176 wins
St. James (292) 144 wins

You can't move Marshall, even though they're too big, but you can move the schools that are too small.

Southwest and South Central?

They merge. 5 from the Southwest: Marshall, Worthington, Redwood, Jackson, Luverne. 5 from the South Central. New Ulm, Waseca, Fairmont, St. Peter, Blue Earth. And then that brings us to....


Like Hutch, Montevideo is in a tough spot. Travel is not a trivial concern. But still, here's a 372 enrollment school in a conference that otherwise averages about 260 enrollment. Montevideo with 236 wins (boys and girls) over 8 years, BOLD with 115. Arguably, Monte's best rivals in the conference are Morris (295) and Benson (282), 52 and 38 miles away. Yellow Medicine, in Granite Falls, is just 13 miles away but its enrollment is just 252. Last year Monte beat YME twice by a total of 73 points.

So, put Monte into the new merged Southwest/South Central. Marshall is 38 miles away, Redwood 51.  And, yes, it would be on average 90 students smaller in enrollment than its new rivals, but right now it's 120 students bigger than its rivals in the West Central Conference South.

Of course, this bumps the Southwest/South Central up to 11 teams. So on second thought, let's put Hutch in there, too. What a great conference.

The New Southwestern Conference "Big"

St. Peter

The New Southwestern Conference "Medium"

New Ulm
Blue Earth

The New Southwestern Conference "Small"

And on second thought we'll call our new new conference Southwestern as well.

Maple River
Minnesota Valley Lutheran
St. James

And of course you would need some cross-over games to maintain historic rivalries. How about:

Hutch vs. Monte vs. Waterville
Marshall vs. Luverne vs. Pipestone
Worthington vs. Jackson vs. Windom
Waseca vs. New Ulm vs. MVL and NRHEG
Fairmont vs. Blue Earth vs. St. James and Maple River
St. Peter vs. Redwood vs. GFW

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