As of right now, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, and Utah Valley State are in the process of joining D-I without any conference commitment (aside from Great West football). The Great West Football Conference is based in Cedar City, the site of (Mid-Con member) Southern Utah University, and is "administered" by the Mid-Continent Conference in an arrangement similar to deals that the Missouri Valley Conference has with both the Gateway Football Conference and the Pioneer Football League, but yet NDSU, UNC, and SDSU have not been tendered membership offers from the Mid-Continent Conference (at least not yet). While the presumption is that the Mid-Con would add "western" schools to accomodate Southern Utah in a two-division set-up, as time goes by, that prospect seems more and more unlikely, as does Big Sky membership.
Ever since 1994, when the Midwest Collegiate Conference (Horizon League) ensured its own survival by raiding the Mid-Con of its core membership (and the Mid-Con merged with the second incarnation of the East Coast Conference), the Mid-Continent Conference has been accurately portrayed as the "On-Continent Conference," with far-flung members in Alabama, Connecticut, Louisiana, New York, and Utah. While the Mid-Con currently extends to Utah, I'm not sure that's where its future lies, especially when you consider the circumstances under which Southern Utah was admitted.
After an initial honeymoon for the "new" Mid-Con in the mid-1990s, it began losing members for various reasons whether football (Buffalo, Eastern Illinois), regional (Central Connecticut State, Troy State), or "other" (Northeastern Illinois). The Mid-Con was losing members and needed more "established" members (i.e. schools with previous D-I experience) such as Oral Roberts and Southern Utah to retain its automatic bid to the NCAAs (ironically enough, despite all the turmoil and failure to meet 6/5 criteria, 1995 was the only year in which the Mid-Con had no automatic bid).
Fast forward a few years...the Mid-Con has lost only one member since 1997-1998 (Youngstown State) and was able to replace that school with another D-I program (Centenary). Additionally, IUPUI and Oakland, former newcomers to D-I, have 5-6 years at that level. For the first time since the early 1990s, the Mid-Con is actually in compliance with the 6/5 membership rule. My feeling is that as long as there are no serious hits to the core (midwestern) membership, there is no real reason for the Mid-Con to build around Southern Utah, when there is no real incentive for Southern Utah to stay in the conference if they will quickly accept any offer from a more georgraphically compact conference (granted, no such invite is forthcoming). As for building its "core," the Mid-Con should have long-term members in Centenary (Robert Parrish, national rankings in the 1970s) and Oral Roberts (national rankings in the 1970s, regional final appearance in 1974), schools with stellar basketball traditions, at least in comparison to the rest of the Mid-Con.
The Southland Conference, a good regional fit for both, is a football-driven entity of public schools. Centenary short-sightedly left the Atlantic Sun and that conference has now circled its wagons at Nashville. While not in traditional Mid-Con country, Centenary (Shreveport) and Oral Roberts (Tulsa) are in mid-major markets located in the Central Time Zone, and could be an integral "southwestern flank" on the Mid-Con of tomorrow (Kansas City, Shreveport, Tulsa).
With Centenary and Oral Roberts as part of the Mid-Con core, that brings "core" membership to eight schools. Add IUPU-Fort Wayne and that number becomes nine. Add a demoted MAC school (e.g. Akron, Eastern Michigan, Kent) or a D-I upgrade (e.g. Northern Kentucky) and that number becomes ten, plus Southern Utah. I don't see any of the Mid-Con "core" going anywhere barring a drastic realignment that would leave the Horizon or Missouri Valley looking for replacements. If Valparaiso were headed for the Horizon League, it seems like they would already be there, and would have been admitted before basketball doormat Youngstown State.
If the Mid-Con does not expand west, then what happens to the Great West schools and UVSC? Why not just form their own conference and wait for this new conference to receive its own automatic bid (unless members depart for greener pastures before that becomes possible)...
Great West Conference (aka "American West II"):
North Dakota State
South Dakota State
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
That makes for a core of 6 basketball programs that are currently D-I independents or uncommited schools transitioning to D-I. Granted, there are still significant distances, but what do these schools have to lose? Perhaps if the core were to become solidified, it would be an attractive option for Denver, Southern Utah, or future D-I upgrades.
The Big South and Mid-Continent Conference began this way...there were no automatic bids for the first few years, but ultimately, these misfit conferences attained a (rightful?) place amongst the other one-bid conferences. Granted, a chain reaction of realigments could kill such a conference (this is what happened when American West Conference 1994-1996, was pillaged by the Big Sky and the Big West), but honestly if no other offers are currently evident and/or forthcoming, what is there to lose? The fact that none of the "NCC 3" (NDSU, UNC, SDSU) have neither Big Sky or Mid-Con memberships at this point makes me wonder why that situation would change, barring a major trickle-down in the realignment process (any such invites would have killed the GWFC before it ever got off the ground). While waiting, why not?