Pac-12 basketball scheduling changes might be on the way sooner rather than later.
Jon Rothstein of Fan Rag Sports is reporting the Pac-12 is considering a new scheduling method for the 2018-19 season that tries to ensure that the top schools in the conference face each other twice a year every year.
In the new method, per Rothstein, the Pac-12’s six travel partners — ASU/Arizona, Oregon/Oregon State, etc. — would stay intact and be ranked from best to worst each year by coaches.
The No. 1-ranked pairing would have a home-and-home against pairings 2, 3, and 4, then play pairings 5 and 6 just once.
Thus, it avoids what happened in 2017-18 when Arizona, the conference’s best team, didn’t have road games against USC and UCLA, the conference’s second- and third-best teams, respectively.
According to Rothstein, the coaches ranked the travel partners like this for 2018-19:
2. Oregon/Oregon State
3. Arizona/Arizona State
4. Washington/Washington State
Of course, this method only works if the conference shakes out as planned, since the pairings are ranked before the season.
For instance, this method would be ineffective if, say, Utah were to emerge as one of the top teams in the Pac-12, since they would only be scheduled to play USC and UCLA once.
Obviously you hope the conference’s coaches can evaluate teams accurately, but surprises happen, as do injuries, suspensions, etc.
And it’s not really clear who the non-L.A. schools would play in this scenario. Would the Arizona schools play pairings 1, 2, and 4 two times?
If that’s the case, who would the Mountain schools play twice? It can’t be 3, 4, 5.
So this model leaves some questions to answer, but it is encouraging to see the Pac-12 is making an effort to make the conference as competitive as possible. It needs it, after only landing three teams in the NCAA Tournament last season.
There’s also been talk that the Pac-12 will switch to a 20-game conference schedule, too.
“We’re talking as a conference about a lot of things, scheduling, but the fact that we’re talking about a lot of things and the month is May and June is great,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said last Thursday. “It hasn’t always been like that.”