BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Two years ago, Conference USA Basketball made a change to the scheduling format to feature Bonus Play games.
What are the Bouns Play games? What is the reason behind changing the schedule format?
Under the current scheduling format for Men's Basketball, each team plays every team in the conference and plays their travel partner twice. For example, the Hilltoppers travel partner is Marshall and WKU played the Herd back-to-back during the first 14 games of league play. After those 14 games, the final four opponents of a team's schedule is based on conference standings. These final four matchups are the Bonus Play games.
The teams are broken up into three groups. Teams 1-5 in the conference standings will play each other. Team 6-10 will face off and 11-14 will all play each other.
"The goal was to take your best teams and have them play the best teams from a strength of schedule standpoint," WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. "So, they would avoid losing to a bad team and it would give them the opportunity for good wins."
With better wins and fewer bad losses late in the season, Bonus Play is ultimately supposed to be a resume booster for whichever team represents Conference USA in the NCAA Tournament.
In recent years, Conference USA has been successful in the March Madness but is always seeded in the 12-15 range. The hope is that Bonus Play would help the league's representative earn a higher seed in the tournament and even possibly help put another conference team in the tournament as well.
After this season the league will decide on whether or not to continue the Bonus Play format. Stewart believes unless the team that makes the NCAA Tournament sees a significantly better seeding this year, Conference USA will forgo Bonus Play for future seasons.
The Hilltoppers begin their Bonus Play schedule on Saturday, February 22 against Charlotte, tipping off at 6:00 p.m.