ACC Moves Men's Basketball Tourney Championship Game To Saturday Night
The ACC yesterday announced that its men’s basketball tournament championship game "would be played on Saturday night, just as it was decades ago," according to Andrew Carter of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. ACC Commissioner John Swofford described it as a "Back to the Future moment" and said it was a “mutually agreed upon” decision between the conference and ESPN, the league’s primary TV partner. The tournament final, played "annually on Sunday afternoon since 1982, will move to Saturday night beginning next season." Swofford said, "The Sunday championship game worked tremendously well for more than three decades, but I believe our schools, teams and our fans will be excited about crowning a champion on Saturday night." Carter notes with the championship game now on Saturday, the tournament "will begin on Tuesday." The ACC’s final regular-season games "will be on Saturday before the start of the tournament on Tuesday" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/14). In Virginia, David Teel wrote the ACC is "wisely revisiting the past," though the changed "hinged on television, more specifically ESPN." The network for decades "reserved Saturday night of championship week for the Big East tournament final at Madison Square Garden," but the Big East "splintered and left ESPN for Fox Sports." The switch to Saturday "is ideal" for the ACC (DAILYPRESS.com, 5/13).
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: ESPN.com's Andy Katz noted the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Atlantic 10 were the "highest-profile conferences that have played a Sunday final recently, causing the selection committee to sometimes come up with an alternative bracket depending on who was playing for the title." Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said of the move, "Prime time on Saturday night during the tournament week is another step in the right direction." Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: "I think it's huge. The Friday night doubleheader resonates around the country, it always has." Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, "I love the move. I've always thought it was powerful when we did it that way in the Big East." Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "It just adds a new dimension to our tournament. ... Whatever the ratings are, they will skyrocket. It's what our conference should do" (ESPN.com, 5/13).