The America East announced that their men’s basketball tournament will undergo a change in format, from having one neutral site to moving the games on campus to the highest seeds for each round.
This year the tournament is in the final season of its deal with SEFCU Arena in Albany for the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals before moving to the highest seed for the championship game. ESPN broadcasts the conference championship game on the day before Selection Sunday and the quarterfinals and semifinals have been on ESPN3.
“This is an exciting and positive change for men’s basketball in our conference,” America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a statement. “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 impacts the 2015 and 2016 men’s basketball championships. The change in tournament format will be similar to the Northeast Conference and Patriot League, as well as repeats the trend followed by the Atlantic Sun Conference that changed its tournament to campus sites for this season. The tournament will re-seed teams after each round, giving the highest remaining seeds the opportunity to play the lowest remaining seeds in each round.
For the next four seasons, the league will likely not have a first round because UMass-Lowell will be ineligible to compete in the league championship until the 2017-18 season. The conference currently has nine teams with the addition of UMass-Lowell and the loss of Boston University in July.
The league has traditionally changed sites, for the rounds prior to the championship, over the last decade which have included playing rounds at Hartford, Binghamton and at Boston University. For a conference that has had turnover since 2001, when Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra and Towson left the league for the Colonial Athletic Association, 11 different schools have won the conference championship in the event’s 34 year history.
Commissioner Amy Huchthausen admitted in August that the conference was reevaluating the format of their tournament. Any change of a tournament format would be dictated by the television schedule and said that they hoped to accomplish the goal of “trying to position our team best for the NCAA tournament.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East preview for the ESPN Insider College Hoops 2013-14 Preview and covers the conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com