Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Big East No Longer Seeing Double

Jim Boeheim gets his wish as he and fellow Big East coaches vote to change conference tournament format, doing away with double bye for top four seeds. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)

Since its expansion to the current format last year, the Big East tournament has been a success in each of its two most recent incarnations. However, success has come at a price for the teams fortunate enough to complete the 18-game conference slate with a record in the top four, as five out of eight top seeds have been eliminated under the controversial double-bye awarded to the top quarter of the 16-team conference. Today's vote by the members of the Big East coaching fraternity is the first step toward changing that.

All sixteen coaches voted unanimously to alter the tournament format yesterday, opting instead for a schedule that features the top four and bottom four seeds on the first day of the tournament, with seeds 5-12 playing one another on the second day. The matchups would be similar to an NCAA Tournament bracket, (1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, etc.) a welcome change to people like Jim Boeheim; an outspoken critic of the format after his Syracuse team, which had been the top-ranked program in the country entering the conference tournament, was ousted in the quarterfinals by Georgetown.

The measure would also have to be passed by the presidents and athletic directors of each Big East institution before finding its way to conference commissioner John Marinatto, who is optimistic about making short work of this change. "We would try and get this done, hopefully by the end of June," said the commissioner of the proposed switch in the format.

Next year's Big East tournament, regardless of how the brackets will look, will once again unfold next March at Madison Square Garden.

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