AAC releases schedule, punctuated by good non-con games, too

The American should have plenty of good chances to showcase itself well. (USATSI)

How can this league top what it did last year? The American released its league schedule on Thursday, and with that also included the best of what the non-conference will bring for a league that made waves by having one of its own (UConn) win the 2013-14 national title.

"We demonstrated last year that we have one of the best men's basketball conferences in the nation," commish Mike Aresco said in a statement. "We are excited to take the first step toward another promising season with the release of our conference schedule, which will once again produce an exciting regular season race and which will be watched on ESPN and CBS, the industry leaders in sports television."

The American will play 18 conference games, so gone is the one-year glory of a true round-robin. With the influx of a few more teams, this means every program gets eight other teams in a home-and-home, with two teams in a once-only situation.

Louisville and Rutgers are gone from there one-year stays with the AAC. Incoming: Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa. The league prides itself on having "the best postseason winning percentage of any conference last season," combining for a 13-4 record between the NCAA and NIT tourneys.

CBS network television will carry two league games this season: SMU at UConn on March 1 and Memphis at Cincinnati on March 8. CBS Sports Network is set to broadcast another 25 AAC gamse over the course of the season.

The league's tournament for men's hoops, which was in Memphsi last season, will be in Hartford in 2015 and run from March 12-15.

Key league games -- and credit to the conference for realizing its best teams need to be playing each other twice.

Jan. 3: SMU at Cincinnati
Jan. 8: Memphis at SMU
Jan. 10: Cincinnati at UConn
Jan. 29: UConn at Cincinnati
Feb. 5: Cincinnati at SMU
Feb. 14: UConn at SMU
Feb. 19: UConn at Memphis
Feb. 26: SMU at Memphis
March 1: SMU at UConn
March 5: Memphis at UConn

And here are, in my estimation, the best non-conference games the AAC has this season. Credit to the league for getting plenty of good tilts outside of conference play, and this doesn't take into account possible matchups in exempt tournaments.

Nov. 17: SMU at Gonzaga
Nov. 18: Memphis vs. Wichita State
Nov. 28: Memphis vs. Baylor
Nov. 30: Texas at UConn
Dec. 17: San Diego State at Cincinnati
Dec. 18: UConn vs. Duke
Dec. 20: VCU at Cincinnati
Dec. 22: Kansas at Temple
Jan. 3: UConn at Florida (CBS)
Jan. 31: Memphis at Gonzaga
Feb. 18: Xavier at Cincinnati

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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