AAC and SEC set to play basketball series

Jan, 4, 2018; Wichita, Kansas, ; during a game between the Wichita State Shockers and Houston Cougars at Koch Arena ©Kelly Ross KWCH12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. The American Athletic Conference and Southeastern Conference (SEC) have agreed to a nonconference men’s basketball scheduling alliance that features four teams from each conference playing home-and-home series over the course of each of the next two seasons.

The SEC/American Alliance matchups for the 2019-20 season will be officially announced in late May. The schools will then proceed to determine dates for these games, and all four showdowns will be carried on ESPN networks.

“I am extremely pleased that we have entered into this scheduling alliance with the SEC,” said American Commissioner Mike Aresco. “SEC Basketball offers quality opponents which will elevate our nonconference schedules. The additional Quadrant 1 and 2 games for our members and the SEC will prove mutually beneficial when Tournament bids are awarded on Selection Sunday. This agreement demonstrates the continued growth and appeal of American Athletic Conference Basketball. I want to thank Greg Sankey and Dan Leibovitz for their work on and support for this arrangement, which strengthens the men’s basketball ties between our conferences that began with our basketball officiating consortium.”

The American enjoyed one of its best seasons in league history in 2018-19 with seven teams reaching postseason play. That mark, along with seven 20-win teams last season, both set new highs for the conference.

“Men’s basketball in the SEC has been on the rise and this scheduling alliance will help to continue the growth of the sport,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “This will provide four high quality games for both leagues during non-conference play.”

Four American teams – UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and Temple – were selected to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, matching the most bids earned by the Conference in any prior year. Houston, which finished the 2018-19 season ranked in the top-15 nationally, advanced to the Sweet 16 and UCF advanced to the second round. Both Wichita State and Memphis, which each won 20-plus games, were selected to participate in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Shockers advanced to the NIT semifinals. USF won five postseason games to claim the CBI championship as the Bulls posted one of the best turnarounds in the country and set a program record with 24 wins.