Arizona guard Brandon Williams finds enough space to scoop a shot around the defensive pressure of UCLA's Jalen Hill in the second half of their Pac-12 game at Pauley Pavilion, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, Los Angeles.

Pac-12 men's basketball teams will play 20 league games starting in 2020-21, the conference announced Thursday after school leaders met in Scottsdale.

The conference didn't offer specific detail yet on how the extra two games would be added to its traditional 18-game format, though it said coaches have expressed a preference to have them played in November or December on dates when students are present. It said each team will now host 10 conference games instead of nine.

The conference schedule traditionally has featured four two-game road trips and four two-game homestands plus two single-game weeks against a team's geographic rival.

Until Colorado and Utah joined the league in 2011, the 18 games allowed for a full round-robin but now four teams are only played once every season, and the expanded new format could mean just two teams are played only once. 

The conference also is considering moving toward a nonconference scheduling standard that could involve setting minimum average power or NET ratings for opponents.

"We believe moving to a 20-game schedule will lead to more competitive schedules and help our programs and league achieve our goals of enhancing the Pac-12 basketball brand and preparation for postseason play," said Jamie Zaninovich, the Pac-12's deputy commissioner and COO, in a statement Thursday.

Pac-12 men's basketball coaches met during the Final Four in Minneapolis and voted to approve the expansion (they have previously met at the annual conference meetings in May but changes to the recruiting calendar prompted the change to an earlier date).

The idea of moving to 20 games first surfaced in early 2018, in an effort to improve conference teams' schedule strength, though the league opted to remain at 18 for next season.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday (third item in this notebook) that the scheduling change would be considered by school leaders during Thursday meetings and possibly enacted.

“No one is just kind of sitting there saying we don’t have to tweak or change anything and just hope things improve,” Scott said. “We’re giving very serious consideration to a 20-game schedule and we’re looking at some models for more conference involvement in nonconference scheduling decisions."

UA's schedule skips in 2019-20 are the road trip to Utah and Colorado, plus the home games against Cal and Stanford. Under the current format, UA was scheduled to miss the Bay area trip and not host Utah or Colorado in 2020-21.

Zaninovich said it was unclear yet whether a 20-game format would involve rematching two of those four scheduled misses to make up the 20 games _ i.e., have UA play at Stanford and host Utah in 2020-21 -- or whether the entire rotating schedule idea might be scrapped to come up with 20 games.

The 20-game schedule also means the Wildcats will have to shave two games off their nonconference schedule but it is unclear whether it will do so by eliminating one-time guarantee games (typically against mid-major opponents) or holding fewer home-and-home series (typically against high-major teams), or a combination of both.

The new format would mean UA plays seven nonconference games, plus a multi-team event (which count for three games) and the 20 conference games. 

Arizona is scheduled to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn in 2020-21 and possibly in a Las Vegas event in 2021-22, with a return possible to the Maui Invitational in 2022-23 (teams can compete in Maui no sooner than once every four years). The Wildcats will compete in the Wooden Legacy next season in Anaheim, Calif.


Four-star guard Boogie Ellis was released from his NLI at Duke and UA is one of the schools that have contacted him.

However, UA's expected 2019-20 roster is already very guard-heavy, and the Wildcats do not have any open scholarships at this point.

Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or bpascoe@tucson.com. On Twitter @brucepascoe

Reporter

Bruce is a veteran Star sports reporter who has also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He graduated from Northwestern University and has an MBA from Thunderbird.