Sun Belt Conference announces changes to men's, women's basketball programs

Senior guard Erick Neal charges from the center past his opponents from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on March 10, 2018, at Lakefront Arena at the University of New Orleans. The Sun Belt Conference made a venue change from Lakefront Arena to the New Orleans Smoothie King Center starting in 2020.

The Sun Belt Conference presidents and chancellors announced changes coming to its men's and women's basketball programs in a press release Monday.

The changes include scheduling, postseason tournament formats and a change in venues for the conference tournament.

Scheduling Changes

Going into full effect at the start of the 2019-20 season, each men’s basketball team will play against a pair of conference opponents during the nonconference portion of their schedules: one home opponent and one away opponent.

The men’s basketball conference will be split into two divisions, east and west, starting in the 2019-20 season as well. The men’s basketball team will play a 20-game conference schedule while the women’s basketball team will continue to play in its non-divisional 18-game format.

EAST

Appalachian State University

Coastal Carolina University

Georgia Southern University

Georgia State University

University of South Alabama

Troy University

WEST

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Arkansas State University

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Monroe

University of Texas at Arlington

Texas State University

Conference tournament changes

A few bracket changes will also be made starting in the 2018-19 season for both men’s and women’s basketball programs. Previously, all 12 teams competed at the conference tournament. Now, the championships will see 10 teams in each bracket, but only eight teams will make it to the Lakefront Arena where the remainder of the tournament will be held. The first two rounds will be played on a campus site.

The New Orleans Smoothie King Center, home of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, will host the semifinal rounds as well as both men’s and women’s championship games of the Sun Belt Conference tournament starting in 2020. Until then, the conference tournament will held at the Lakefront Arena one last time.

According to the conference’s press release, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host quarterfinal games at home against winners of games from the first and second rounds. The quarterfinal winners will join the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in New Orleans for a “Final Four” experience.

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