It's a domino effect, someone raids the Horizon, the Horizon raids the Mid-Con, the Mid-Con raids the United B-Ball Conference. It's difficult to "skip" levels. I wouldn't see a Dakotas school or IPFW going straight into the Horizon when there are established schools that are closer in the Mid-Con to take, namely those listed above, IUPUI, Valpo, Oakland, or UMKC.
I agree with that.
I disagree with the market assessments. IMHO IPFW would already be in a conference if that were the deciding factor, its a secondary factor to be sure, but any of the markets we are talking about including the Dakotas are viable Division I markets.
Other factors are going to carry the day. New members are going to have to benefit the prospective conference in other more fundamental ways. Travel cost savings through reorganization, increased conference revenues through membership fees, committed and competitive athletic programs, proven fan bases and finally peer insitution compatibility with existing members are a few that come to mind.
It looks to me that exisiting conferences the Dakotas might have a realistic chance of joining arent really interested in expansion as long as the auto bids are protected. But if there is motivation to expand the Mid Con appears to benefit the most with the additions of NDSU, SDSU and IPFW.
Fortunately the UBC, GWFC, USL and the new wrestling conference are taking a lot of pressure off the Dakotas. The UBC even offers the germ of a new viable conference especially if other quality move-ups appear that help it out geographically.