COLORADO SPRINGS — The Mountain West Conference and Missouri Valley Conference announced an agreement in principle Tuesday to form an annual Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge for men's basketball.

All 19 members of both leagues will participate in the Challenge, which will feature head-to-head competition between nine Mountain West and nine Missouri Valley teams annually.

The Mountain West has ranked among the Top 10 in the NCAA's final Ratings Percentage Index report in eight of the last nine years, while the Valley has been among the Top 10 in each of the last four. Teams from the two leagues have squared off 32 times, with MWC teams holding a 17-15 edge in those contests.

"This is a very good matchup between two competitive leagues," said MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson. "Our coaches and fans have been looking for quality non-conference opponents and this annual competition between two Top 10 RPI leagues will afford us that."

"The Challenge series is a positive step for both conferences," says Commissioner Doug Elgin, now in his 21st year with the Missouri Valley Conference. "Tough non-conference scheduling has always been paramount in improving our league's stature on the national scene. The series helps institutions in both leagues achieve that goal by adding at least one game annually against quality non-conference competition. And it's great for the fans of the Missouri Valley and the Mountain West as new rivalries are developed with nationally -recognized programs that have a strong history in men's basketball."

Specific details regarding the Challenge will be released at a later date. Officials from both leagues are working toward a four-year commitment that could begin as early as November 2009.