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How WSU turned basketball game in Wichita into neutral-site contest for NET rankings

The Wichita State men’s basketball team will feel right at home on Saturday when it makes the short, 10-minute drive from campus to downtown Wichita for the annual Intrust Bank Arena game.

And South Dakota State, which made an eight-hour drive for Saturday’s game, will treat it like a road game.

But there will be an important distinction about Saturday’s game when the NET rankings are updated on Monday: It will count as a neutral-site game.

That might not mean much this season, when the Shockers aren’t expected to contend for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but it could help first-year WSU head coach Paul Mills at some point down the line receive a little extra credit in the NET rankings.

Thanks to some adjustments made by WSU athletic director Kevin Saal in how the Intrust Bank Arena game is handled, it’s allowed the Shockers to potentially cash in on a higher NET victory than in previous years.

For example, South Dakota State is currently ranked No. 179 in the latest NET rankings. What would have been considered a Quad 4 game (against opponents ranked No. 161-362) at home is now considered a Quad 3 game (against opponents ranked No. 101-200) on a neutral site.

If WSU returns to scheduling NCAA Tournament-quality opponents from power conferences, it’s easy to see how the Shockers could potentially score a Quad 1 win with the difference — opponents ranked up to No. 50 count as a Quad 1 on a neutral site, while only opponents ranked up to No. 30 count as a Quad 1 at home.

The workaround WSU found is to have a third party, in this case Global Sports Management, host the game. Global Sports Management is responsible for obtaining officials and handling game-day operations for Saturday’s game. The company is even cutting WSU a $30,000 check for the appearance, according to the contract obtained by The Eagle.

Another important caveat, an NCAA spokesperson told The Eagle, is for the game to not be included in WSU’s season-ticket package.

WSU relinquishing control of Saturday’s game will help the team in the NET rankings, but it’s also left some fans wondering why the game will not be broadcast on television or available on streaming. According to the contract, Global Sports Management had sole discretion whether or not to make the game viewable to those not attending.