Conference scheduling for men's basketball is going to be different for the Charlotte 49ers and the rest of Conference USA in 2018-19.
In an effort to increase RPIs and get more teams into the NCAA tournament, the conference passed a new format during the C-USA spring meetings.
Under the new format, the 14 teams of the league will play each other once and will play their travel partners twice during the first 7 weeks of the conference schedule.
After the first 7 weeks, the top 5 in conference record (1-5) will be put in a group. The second 5 in conference record (6-10) will be put into a group. The last 4 (11-14) in the conference will be put into a group as well. In the final 3 weeks, the teams in their groups will play each for the final 4 games of the conference schedule. Who is home and who is away will be set by a formula.
This could create 3 games against one team in the regular season if travel partners end up in the same group.
After the conference schedule is complete, the top 12 teams will advance to the conference tournament.
"With the goals of improve seedings and increase the number of teams that advance to the postseason, we viewed this as a great opportunity to enhance our top teams' resume by providing them additional quality games within their conference schedule," said Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod in a press release. "Nonconference scheduling will continue to be a priority but this will provide a real-time analysis to create competitive matchups for teams and their fans."
This past season, Middle Tennessee was a dominate teams and looked like a shoe in for the NCAA tournament as they were ranked in the top 25 and finished with a 24-7 record. They would lose their final game of the regular season to rival Marshall and lost the very next game in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Southern Miss and they would not get an at large bid to the NCAA tourney. Instead, they headed to the NIT as the automatic qualifier for winning the C-USA regular season title.
"This new scheduling plan uniquely combines the goals of Conference USA leaders and supporters," said ESPN analyst Mark Adams in the press release. "It combines a traditional schedule with an exciting end-of-season format that will surely catch the attention of college basketball fans and the NCAA tournament selection committee."
The conference has not had multiple teams in the NCAA tournament since 2012 when both Memphis and Southern Miss made the tournament.
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