After boasting just one team in the 2018 NCAA tournament, Dan D’Antoni’s Marshall, Conference USA has announced that it will be making innovative changes to the mechanisms of its conference schedule in basketball in an attempt to garner more bids to the big dance in March every year. Here’s how it will work: after non-conference play ends, the Conference USA teams will play in what is being termed a “13 game round-robin.” Once that is complete, each team will be ranked from one to fourteen.
The top five teams will be placed into a group and will play only each other for the rest of the season.
The middle teams and bottom teams will also be placed into their own groups.
The main purpose of the move is to increase strength of schedule for the conference’s top teams, a critical component of landing a bid in the NCAA tournament. That aside, this unique idea will be sure to attract attention and viewership.
Dan D’Antoni, who is of course the younger brother of Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, was pleased with the announcement.
“You fall into a pod. Then what happens is if you’re in the top five, your RPI is not going to be lowered by playing somebody at No. 230 and a chance of getting beaten – especially at their place. You eliminate that. And, again, you have a chance at playing schools with higher RPIs… It’s a definitive move. It creates a lot more excitement because the games you have at home are against top teams,” he said.
Last season, Marshall made the second round of the NCAA tournament after upsetting Wichita State in the first round. D’Antoni and his squad will hope to continue their success next season under the new rules of the conference.
C-USA hopes for a boost in seeding and bids as a result of this audacious move.