Not a surprise, but still good news. The ACC is moving the ACC Basketball Tournament up one day, so that the championship game will be played Saturday night rather than Sunday.
The Atlantic Coast Conference will move its tournament championship game to the Saturday night before Selection Sunday after being a Sunday afternoon staple since 1982.
The ACC announced the scheduling change Tuesday during its spring meetings in Amelia Island, Florida.
The ACC tournament will be in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2015, Washington, D.C., in 2016 and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in 2017 and ’18. The 2019 ACC tournament will be held in Charlotte before it goes back to Greensboro in 2020.
Big shock that all the coaches of former Big East teams are happy to get back to normalcy.
“Prime time on Saturday night during the tournament week is another step in the right direction,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon told ESPN.com from the meetings.
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.
The ACC tournament will run a Tuesday-to-Saturday format, meaning the league’s regular season will end on the previous Saturday instead of Sunday. There will be three first-round games on Tuesday of Championship Week, four second-round games on Wednesday, four quarterfinal games on Thursday, the semifinals on Friday and the Saturday championship game.
“I think it’s huge. The Friday night doubleheader resonates around the country, it always has,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “The extra day is good for the two teams with the preparation, and Saturday night you have the whole television audience.
“We’ve talked about this since we came into the league. This will be a great thing to switch to this.”
“I love the move,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey told ESPN.com. “I’ve always thought it was powerful when we did it that way in the Big East. The Sunday final is almost an afterthought since the attention is all on the selection show.”
Brey is absolutely right.
You can watch and enjoy the game, but then it is over and you are either already to the next game that day or just thinking about seeding and which region. But Saturday night. It’s the story. It’s the game. It carries over the highlights into the morning and up until the start of the other Sunday championship games.
The move will also give the ACC a slightly larger platform for its showcase basketball event. The last Saturday night championship for the “old” Big East in 2013 (which was also the last year the game was televised on ESPN) between Syracuse and Louisville drew 3.4 million viewers. That year’s ACC title game on Sunday afternoon between Miami and North Carolina had only 2.2 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.
You know ESPN was pushing for this. They need a big draw for that Saturday night with the demise of the real Big East.
I imagine old-school ACC fans — at least the ones in the state of North Carolina — have to be having mixed feelings. There’s all the logic in the world dictating this move. But, you know, tradition. Not to mention it must feel like not only has football taken the lead for the conference, but now the old Big East schools seem to be pushing more changes through.
The reality is simply money. Money drove the ACC expansion in both phases. Money drove the prevalence of the football side of things. Money is driving the move slowly away from Greensboro. And money is the reason that they men’s basketball championship game is moving to Saturday night.