SBD/May 24, 2012/Colleges

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  • Big East Will Expand Men's Basketball Tournament To Include All 18 Teams

    Big East's expanded tourney will feature play-in games between lowest-seeded teams

    The Big East conference yesterday "announced its format for an expanded 18-team men's basketball tournament beginning in the 2013-14 season and featuring two play-in games with the lowest-seeded teams," according to Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com. Those play-in games "would take place on the Monday of tourney week at a site yet to be determined" in the N.Y. area. Madison Square Garden, which hosts the Big East tournament, "is an option, but further evaluation must be done before any decisions are made on a host site." The tournament bracket "would be set up the same way as the NCAA tournament bracket." On Tuesday of tournament week, "the top four seeds will play the bottom four seeds." On Wednesday, "the middle seeds will play." Big East coaches "were unanimously in favor of having all 18 future Big East members play in their conference tournament" (ESPN.com, 5/23). Big East Associate Commissioner of Men's Basketball Dan Gavitt said, "It is an adjustment, it is a significant change in the format for the Big East Tournament." In Memphis, Kyle Veazey notes conference presidents "must approve that plan, but that's usually just a formality" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/24).

    WEST WORLD: In San Diego, Brent Schrotenboer writes the Big East "is expected to make another run at BYU or Air Force if the league’s new TV contract generates as much revenue as expected." San Diego State Univ. AD Jim Sterk said, "We didn’t go over a list of prospects, but the usual suspects are there." Consultants have "conservatively estimated that a new TV deal for the Big East could fetch at least" $6.4M per year for football-only members. BYU and Air Force last year turned down Big East membership, "in part because of the uncertainty over television revenues (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/24).

    SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS? In N.Y., Pete Thamel writes the Big East is "months away from a lucrative television contract but a few realignment ripples from a nasty and complicated divorce." Questions about how much the league would earn with its new TV contract "were countered by whispers about what would be the tipping point for the nonfootball schools to organize a coup and break up the conference." The Big East's "most lucrative asset remains its postseason basketball tournament, meaning these imperfect strangers need to learn to live together." Villanova Univ. men's basketball coach Jay Wright said, "The football schools and the basketball schools, the way they are now, have a great need for each other, which usually creates a good relationship. We both need each other right now, and we both know it." Wright also "acknowledged that the next few months would be some of the most critical in the league's history." Thamel writes for all of the "gloom cast over the league," TV execs from NBC, Fox and ESPN "still mingled" at the Big East meetings this week. NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Sports Content & College Sports Mike Sheehey said, "You have to make your business decisions based on what your conference is now and put in clauses that allow it to address any changes. There is value now, and that’s what we’re looking at. And we don’t know if it’s going to continue to change or if it’s not. But either way, we feel there’s value" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/24).

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