UNT bonus play art

The North Texas bench celebrates during a win over Old Dominion on Saturday at the Super Pit. Conference USA released its bonus play schedule on Sunday.

North Texas will face four of Conference USA’s top teams the next two weeks before sitting idle on the final day of the regular season as part of the league’s bonus play format.

C-USA released its men’s basketball schedule for final weeks of the season leading into the conference tournament on Sunday.

UNT will open bonus play with a home game against Louisiana Tech at 3 p.m. on Saturday and will also host Western Kentucky at 1 p.m. on March 1. The Mean Green will travel to Florida International on Feb. 27 and Charlotte on March 4 for 6 p.m. games.

Each team has a bye during bonus play. UNT’s will come March 7, when the other four teams in the top pod will be in action.

This is the second straight season C-USA has used its bonus play format that is designed to bolster the schedule strength of the league’s top programs in advance of the NCAA tournament.

The conference’s 14 teams are divided into three pods for the final four games of the regular season based on the standings. The top five teams play in one pod, the second five teams in another and the bottom four teams in a third.

UNT secured the top overall season heading into pod play with an impressive 64-47 win over defending C-USA champion Old Dominion on Saturday.

“Where we are at right now is huge,” UNT coach Grant McCasland said following the game. “We have done what we wanted to up to this point. We know that from this point on we have to go win the next one. That’s the mentality.”

Where UNT landed in bonus play puts the Mean Green in an advantageous position heading into the final weeks of the season. UNT (18-9, 12-2 C-USA) has a one-game lead over Western Kentucky (18-8, 11-3) heading into bonus play.

The Mean Green will also host WKU and Louisiana Tech, the second and third seeds for bonus play.

Having its bye on the final week of the regular season will also give UNT a chance to get some extra rest before the C-USA tournament March 11-14 at The Ford Center in Frisco.

UNT has won 12 of its last 13 games and has rolled off 10 straight wins at the Super Pit. The latest of those wins was a particularly encouraging sign for the Mean Green, who were 0-9 all-time against Old Dominion.

“We were hitting shots, getting everyone involved and our identity on the defensive end showed,” senior guard DJ Draper said. “That was a good sign going into pod play.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

UNT bonus play schedule

The following is the North Texas men’s basketball team’s bonus play schedule that was released on Sunday.

Date Opponent Time Television
Feb. 22 Louisiana Tech 3 p.m. Stadium
Feb. 27 at Florida International 6 p.m. Stadium via Facebook
March 1 Western Kentucky 1 p.m. CBS SportsNetwork
March 4 at Charlotte 6 p.m. Stadium via Facebook
March 7 Bye

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