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Most Conference USA spring meetings aren't overly important.

But the one held last week in Destin, Florida, is an exception.

Indeed, it proved to be very significant for the 14 C-USA men's basketball programs.

"I think our scheduling is going to change significantly this year," said Marshall head coach Danny D'Antoni. "We hired Mark Adams (former coach and ESPN analyst) to come up with something that would create interest and give us a better chance for a better seed (in the NCAA Tournament) out of our league tournament.

"Also, secondarily, to try to get a second seed from our conference into the NCAA Tournament."

That's a big step in the right direction. As far as C-USA getting more than one member into the NCAA Tournament, that hasn't happened since Memphis and Southern Miss played in the 2012 tourney.

As for higher seeds, no C-USA school has enjoyed a single-digit seed since Memphis was seeded No. 6 in 2013. Since then, Tulsa was No. 13 in 2014, UAB was No. 14 in 2015, Middle Tennessee was No. 15 in 2016 and No. 12 in 2017 and, then, Marshall was No. 13 in 2018.

So, how is scheduling going to change that? The most radical difference will be that when the conference schedule is released, built in will be dates for games, but with opponents to be determined. Those dates will be filled with league opponents after the conference seeds the teams following the first 14 games.

"We're going to play 13 games and your travel partner twice, which would be Western Kentucky for us," said D'Antoni. "Then they are going to seed the schools. If you finish in the top five, No. 1 through No. 5 will play each other for the next four games to get 18 games.

"Like, if you're No. 1 you will play No. 4. And you'll play, I think, No. 4 and No. 3 at home and then travel to No. 2. ... There are four games in that five-team slot. No. 1 will play No. 5 and No. 4, I think. And No. 2 and No. 3 will come to No. 1.

"Then, if you're No. 2 you will play No. 4. It just reverses all the way down until you get everybody in that top group playing each other once. That will give you 18 games."

The goal is for C-USA's best teams to play one another in effort to boost the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) of those teams. Those groupings remain in place all season all the way through the conference tournament.

"Once you're in that top five, since you are playing the tougher teams," explained D'Antoni, "what they do is guarantee you that you will be one of the top five seeds. You can't fall out of the top five seeds in the conference tournament.

"And then No. 6 through No. 10 will do the same type of thing. They can't fall out of six through 10. And then No. 11 through 14 play and the same thing goes there. They can't get any higher than No. 11 and, obviously, no lower than No. 14."

Sound familiar? That is very reminiscent of the pod scheduling John Calipari persuaded C-USA to adopt when he was coaching Memphis (2000-09).

"Yeah, that is kind of what it is," said D'Antoni. "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."

That is a very progressive move.

"It's a definitive move," said D'Antoni. "It creates a lot more excitement because the games you have at home are against top teams."

Good moves, C-USA.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at


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