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Men’s basketball preps for newly implemented Bonus Play

Men’s basketball preps for newly implemented Bonus Play

Men’s basketball preps for newly implemented Bonus Play
February 21
00:51 2019

Last Saturday, Conference USA announced the games for the remaining two weeks of the regular season for men’s basketball, the newly implemented Bonus Play games for the remainder of the season. After all conference teams have played each other, teams will be grouped into one of three groups – the top five, middle five and bottom four teams in the rankings.

North Texas is ranked No. 6 in C-USA, placing it in the second group with Marshall, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Louisiana Tech.

“We kind of put ourselves in a bind by falling into the sixth seed,” senior guard Michael Miller said. “There’s no excuse, we just have to take things one step at a time and stick to the game plan every game.”

From February 23 – March 6, teams will play opponents in their group and each team will play two home games and away games. It does not matter how a team performs in bonus play, each team will stay in its individual group for the C-USA Tournament – if the No. 7 team goes 4-0 in bonus play and the No. 6 team goes 0-4, the No. 7 team can’t place higher than the seventh, and therefore can’t be greater than a seventh seed in the conference tournament.

According to a press release regarding the C-USA bonus play schedule, “Once all 18 games have been completed, 12 teams, based on their overall conference record within their respective group, will be seeded in the conference tournament. For example, if a program lands in the second group (6-10), it will seed no higher than six and no lower than 10 in the tournament field.”

The overall intention of bonus play is to get more C-USA teams into the NCAA postseason tournament, advance their seeding upon entering March Madness and to boost competitiveness within the conference. The idea is to allow the top teams more opportunities to generate more quality wins by having the top teams face off against one another.

Mean Green head coach Grant McCasland talks to redshirt freshman guard Umoja Gibson during a timeout at the game against Western Kentucky on Feb. 9, 2019. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

“I’m for it because of the accountability and clarity it gives to who the conference decides who plays more than one time,” head coach Grant McCasland said.

The Mean Green (20-7, 8-6 C-USA) come into the remaining two weeks in sixth place in C-USA. They will be traveling to face off against Louisiana Tech for their first road game of bonus play. The match will be on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. with the Bulldogs being seeded No. 10.

North Texas’ second game will be at home, where they will tip off against Florida Atlantic, who holds the No. 8 spot in C-USA. The game will be on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. and be aired on ESPN+.

Senior guard Jordan Duffy has been inactive due to injury after dealing with a hip/groin problem. Before Duffy’s injury, he was averaging 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Even though there’s not much left in the season, it’s just a little bump in the road,” Duffy said. “I’ll be back to play.”

The senior guard has missed the last eight games of the season and it is not exactly known when he will return. North Texas’ game record during Duffy’s absence is 3-5.

“We’ve certainly missed the defensive energy he brings to the table,” McCasland said. “He’s a great contester, he’s quick on the ground and makes people miss shots and we’ve missed that for sure.”

North Texas’ third game of bonus play will be at home in a matchup with Marshall, which will take place Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. and can be streamed on Stadium. This game will mark the Mean Green’s final home game of the 2018-19 regular season. Marshall sits behind North Texas in the C-USA rankings at seventh place.

The Mean Green will close their regular season with a road game at Florida International on March 9. The Golden Panthers are sitting in ninth place in the C-USA standings.

Junior guard Ryan Woolridge was inactive with an injury in their last game— a 69-59 loss to Florida International. His return date is not known as of yet.

North Texas aims to use the bonus play to better their play and prepare them for the C-USA Tournament.

“I think in the end, it’s going to be tough no matter what, our league is good from top to bottom,” McCasland said. “For us, it’s about getting healthy and playing our best basketball these next four games.”

Featured Image: Mean Green junior guard Roosevelt Smart drives through the lane and attempts a layup in a Feb. 9 game against Western Kentucky. Image by: Trevon McWilliams. 

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

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