Sun Belt, Mid-American Conferences introduce MAC-SBC Challenge

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NCAA basketball

NEW ORLEANS — The Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt Conference have introduced the MAC-SBC Challenge, a scheduling alliance in the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, to take place during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

The 12 MAC men’s and women’s basketball teams will face off against 12 Sun Belt teams in a pair of contests each year, with each game being carried on an ESPN platform.

The first game will occur during the opening week of the 2023-24 regular-season from Wednesday, Nov. 8, to Saturday, Nov. 11, with the matchups being jointly determined based on projected NET rankings heading into the season. The second contest will take place on Saturday, Feb. 10, with the matchups set based on real-time NET rankings and announced in January.

“The MAC-SBC Challenge is unique because it annually provides our men’s and women’s basketball teams with two quality games against peer institutions,” said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill. “This new partnership will create so many interesting matchups and be exciting for our membership and our fans.”

“The MAC-SBC Challenge series will provide great opportunities to match-up with similar strength opponents and will allow us to gain home games,” said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. “This fits perfectly with our right-size scheduling philosophy. I am appreciative of the Sun Belt Conference and look forward to the competition on the court.”

Each MAC and Sun Belt team included in the MAC-SBC Challenge will be guaranteed one home and one away game each season.

Scheduling assistance will be provided by Ordinal Sports Group. In addition to relevant NET data, geography and frequency of past contests will be considered in determining the matchups.

The MAC-SBC Challenge comes at the recommendation of the Sun Belt’s strategic planning committees for men’s and women’s basketball, as the conference looks to return to its roots and bolster its success on the hardwood.

The conference has already bookended the season with marquee events, beginning with Sun Belt Basketball Media Days in New Orleans, La.—the 2022 edition was the first in-person media event for Sun Belt basketball in a decade—and concluding with the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championships at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla.

2023-24
Nov. 8-Nov. 11 – MAC Women at Sun Belt Women
Nov. 8-Nov. 11 – Sun Belt Men at MAC Men
Feb. 10 – Sun Belt Women at MAC Women
Feb. 10 – MAC Men at Sun Belt Men

2024-25
Nov. 6-Nov. 9 – Sun Belt Women at MAC Women
Nov. 6-Nov. 9 – MAC Men at Sun Belt Men
Feb. 8 – MAC Women at Sun Belt Women
Feb. 8 – Sun Belt Men at MAC Men

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