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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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American Athletic Conference going to 20 conference games for 2020-'21
POSTED: September 22, 2020 -- 3:47 p.m. CT
The American Athletic Conference is expected to announce its men's and women's basketball teams will each play 20 conference games for the 2020-'21 season.
Sources have told me the move to 20 conference games will indeed happen. The conference office is expected to announce the decision soon.
Jon Rothstein, from CBS Sports, was first to report the decision.
Sources: The American Athletic Conference will play 20 games during the 20-21 season. Two conference games will be played in December. League was previously at 18.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 22, 2020
Currently, AAC men's basketball teams play 18 conference games.
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The two additional conference games for the AAC men's teams eliminates 2 nonconference games from the schedule in this pandemic-impacted season. Basketball coaches across the country are having a difficult time filling out the nonconference portion of their schedules this year.
Plus, 2 more conference games could be beneficial for the AAC's NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) metrics -- assuming, of course, AAC member schools are not having a down season -- which could result in more AAC teams earning at-large berths to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Currently, AAC women's basketball teams play 16 conference games.
The four additional conference games for the AAC women's teams would lessen scheduling difficulties for this season; however, in the future, it would also decrease opportunities for AAC teams to schedule top-tier teams in the nonconference.
Though the move to 20 conference games is believed to be just for the 2020-'21 season, adopting a 20-game conference schedule beyond the 2020-'21 season would provide additional content for the new "The American on ESPN+" streaming channel.
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