An innovative nonconference scheduling initiative is developing behind the scenes in college basketball that, if adopted, would adjust the landscape of the sport each February.
Twenty-two of Division I’s 32 conferences have been receptive to an ambitious scheduling concept that would introduce back-to-back non-league games played just a few weeks prior to Selection Sunday, WAC commissioner Brian Thornton and WAC associate commissioner Drew Speraw told CBS Sports. The selling point of these out-of-conference matchups would be to pit projected NCAA Tournament candidates, in addition to bona fide bubble teams, against each other. What’s more, there would be an array of games between schools fighting to improve their NCAA tourney résumés.
Here’s how the first-of-its-kind concept would work: For one week in February, a slew of leagues would pause their conference schedules and instead have all their members play two nonconference opponents. The model would have every team involved play one home game and one away game, with the majority of those games happening three days apart — many on Wednesday and Saturday — with the window commencing after Valentine’s Day.
The matchups would be decided by an algorithm that would ensure the best teams play the best teams. The games wouldn’t be determined until the end of January. Think of it like a mini-Selection Sunday within the regular season. You could even build a television show around it. How fun would that be?
if the crucial multi-bid leagues (american athletic conference, mountain west, atlantic 10, west coast convention) determine to do this, college hoops should theoretically have overdue-february nonconference games comparable to gonzaga-houston, colorado country-davidson, memphis-saint mary’s or boise state-davidson — all groups that without problems made the 2022 ncaa match. this would provide a past due-season scheduling possibility that would undeniably enhance the ones meetings’ visibility and viability to get extra groups into the dialogue of qualifying for the ncaa match.
this groundbreaking idea changed into conjured up by means of thornton, a former university basketball instruct, who to start with toyed with the concept in 2020 while he was an associate commissioner at the american athletic conference. there is no formal name connected to the occasion yet, but the belief as an entire stands to improve university basketball’s regular season.
it is slightly similar in idea to espn’s “bracket busters” template from the 2000s and early 2010s, most effective instead of having a handful of mid-major groups play every other on someday, this will be a nationwide event that might span over nearly per week and make sure groups played in home and street environments. it is “bracket busters” on steroids.
“it is a home and away [setup], regardless of convention affiliation, regardless of ranking, the first-class teams are playing ‘like’ matchups,” thornton said. “a quad 2 crew plays quad 2 team. it is merit-based totally. you earn your manner in. … you get high-quality games you would not be able to get on your personal.”
first of all, thornton was hoping to make this a 4-league alliance of types. then, in speakme to human beings around university sports activities, the response became encouraging; getting eight conferences involved appeared conceivable. at this factor, at least a dozen leagues have expressed serious interest approximately doing this and are prepared to transport forward.
michigan nation associate advert kevin pauga, a man who’s taken into consideration a scheduling guru in college athletics, has been the 1/3 piece in crafting this zealous idea. pauga — who additionally constructed the kpi, one of the six metrics on ncaa tournament team sheets — helps construct scheduling templates for greater than a dozen conferences and a litany of ncaa-sanctioned sports activities. with pauga’s help, the pitch has been despatched to the 26 leagues outdoor of the six largest meetings (acc, big 12, large east, big ten, %-12, sec). the six largest leagues are not concerned for sensible reasons: 20-game leagues schedules, inflexible television contracts, and a experience that they wouldn’t embrace this outside-the-container concept, because it wouldn’t stand to gain many teams in those leagues the way that it would for all others.
“we have talked with 22 leagues and there is real interest at this factor,” speraw stated.
the scheduling logistics would not be tough, due to the fact by means of virtue of agreeing to do that, the ones meetings and groups could take two noncon video games off the time table in november or december, only to switch them with doubtlessly higher opponents at a extra urgent time of the season. what is extra, the meetings might then have the capacity and versatility to bump league video games up, into december, to help accommodate with scheduling.
if this model is agreed to, it would begin within the 2023-24 season.
said pauga: “’23-24 and ’24-25 are seasons which can be one week longer than everyday because the very last four is tied to start of the masters. a few league video games will be moved pre-christmas.” which means that this is coming at a super time: those two seasons are the right checking out grounds for this idea. there is also dialogue ongoing about doing this in ladies’s hoops as nicely.
how an awful lot upside is there to test with this? pauga said that, this past season, the template from the 22 meetings who’ve expressed hobby might have produced 31 quad 1 opportunities and fifty two quad 2 possibilities. this is eighty three video games of result that could effect groups’ résumés and reshape all team sheet metrics.
the ones are games that may tangibly impact how the ncaa tournament is seeded and decided on. plus, an event like this would capture the attention of the lovers, media and even the selection committee in a manner that most video games in a single-bid/smaller leagues do no longer. it’d be a shot inside the arm to university basketball’s time table. february could become greater thrilling, more relevant.
it’s also can serve as a benefit on this regard: many coaches might include breaking apart the monotony of league play to get a couple of nonconference games in february, to assist tune up before march. that harkens lower back to how energy-convention teams used to frequently agenda non-league games in february. coaches used to believe that doing that helped a crew live sparkling and higher organized for march. some thing like this will assist carry that spirit returned — and maybe, subsequently, result in some power-convention teams to follow suit in the destiny.
“this cuts down on margin of blunders that exists,” thornton stated. “with the transfer portal, you do not know in case you’re going to be true or in case your group you are playing goes to be top.”
other than the quad 1 and quad 2 video games and groups that would be the big draw, thornton said that the lower-rated groups in all of these leagues could also play ‘like’ combatants, but so one can make the video games as pragmatic/prudent as viable, there might be geographic preference for the sub-.500 matchups that might come in conjunction with this initiative.
“it cuts down on non d-i matchups, awful games scheduled and gives fan and groups video games they wouldn’t in general get,” thornton said. “it breaks up the monotony of the convention state of affairs and prepares groups for the ncaa tournament. … it’s simply exceptional and that’s what we definitely loved about it. kevin has the potential to plug these kind of parameters in and permit the computer to dictate it. we do not need the squabbling of ‘we do not need to go on the street here, i don’t want to play that opponent.'”
a key issue of this idea is removing human decision-making when it comes down to sincerely figuring out what groups are playing each different. pauga said the matchups could be out of the palms of coaches, athletic administrators and conferences. the set of rules might mechanically determine the matchups in late january — about 3 weeks previous from the games being played — primarily based on team overall performance. it may be primarily based at the internet, or it might be decided in a mixture of outcomes-based metrics and predictive ones. there could be no rematches of video games already played between nonconference fighters from in advance that season.
“all people receives what they want,” pauga stated. ” years ago, maybe it is dayton-san diego state. both teams have been stepping into, it’s simply two pinnacle-10 teams going at it at a time that could be really thrilling for schools and brands. we are basically trying to play scheduling matchmaker.”
pauga stated positive guardrails would be agreed upon by means of all conferences. thornton, speraw and pauga prepare a package to provide an explanation for how the algorithm could account for things like tour, bus mileage, flight mileage and how this can be built out equitably. the games would additionally be broadcast across many tv networks; that isn’t this kind of logistical problem because of the truth that these faculties have already got nonconference video games tied to sure networks as is. you are simply transferring the timing of those nonconference video games instead of having to restructure television contracts.
“the thrill around it is good proper now,” speraw stated. “we feel accurate about leagues which have proven hobby and requested a whole lot of questions.”
with conferences across the u . s . a . set to maintain their annual league conferences in may and june, this scheduling initiative can be a discussion factor for coaches and athletic administrators over the next month-plus. their feedback is crucial. in the event that they see the larger picture, they will see a better future for college basketball. before we get to the first-rate month of the 12 months, a overdue-february frenzy serving because the on-ramp to march madness seems like a brilliant appetizer to postseason basketball.