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America East makes tourney format change
The America East made a major move Thursday, announcing a complete change in its men’s basketball conference tournament format.
The move doesn’t come as a surprise as the conference came under some scrutiny after top-seed Stony Brook fell to No. 4 Albany in the tournament semifinal last season.
The first round and semifinal games in last season’s tournament were hosted by Albany.
A top seed having to face a lower seed on its home court in a conference semifinal didn’t sit well with everyone. The new format, which will take effect beginning with the 2014-2015 season and run through the 2015-2016 season, mirrors the one used by other mid-major conferences. The change will be in effect
The NEC uses the same formula.
“This is great for our league,” said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell. “We have great home court venues and enthusiastic fan bases across the conference. To be rewarded for a great regular season and have an opportunity to play in front our fans and bring a piece of March Madness to multiple campuses is really exciting.”
America East commissioner Amy Hutchthausen said it was what the coaches wanted.
“This is an exciting and positive change for men’s basketball in our conference,” said Huchthausen. “This format will afford more of our campuses the chance to experience the thrill of postseason basketball, while also protecting our strongest teams and giving them the best opportunity to advance to the NCAA tournament with the highest seed possible.”
The format change was unanimously proposed by the league’s coaches and supported by the conference’s presidents and athletic directors last June. The status of the women’s tournament is still being discussed.
The America East has used this format before. The last time was in 1995. For the last four seasons, the preliminary rounds were held on one campus, with the championship round played on the home court of the highest remaining seed.
Aside from protecting the higher seeds, the format switch could also help financially. With every game being held on the home court of the higher seed, there is a better chance to sell out games. It will also cut down on hotel and travel costs for schools.
“Moving to this high-seed format and re-seeding the bracket enables us to protect our best teams, the teams that have shown their mettle over the course of a 16-game schedule,” said University of Vermont Associate Vice President & Director of Athletics Robert Corran.
The format change won't help media members, who are used to staying at one site for several days. And it could be a burden on fans and students who are used to staying in one city. But this move appears to be more about protecting the best teams.
Said Corran: “This will put the conference in a better position to send its best representative forward to the NCAA tournament and obtain its best possible seed.”