Things have been a bit busy with my day job over the past couple of weeks (and silly season news has been particularly silly this spring), so I apologize for my limited posts. Things will be pretty quiet over the rest of the month as I work my way to vacation two weeks from today.
After the jump, I have some information about a couple early season tournament fields and some potential, and necessary, conference tournament changes.The Diamond Head Classic field is complete, as ESPN managed to add a Pac-10 team to the field of eight. Klay Thompson-led Washington State will join national runner-up Butler, South Region runner-up Baylor, Florida State, host Hawai'i, Mississippi State, San Diego, and Utah in the Christmas week event.
ESPN will have a second event in late December, as they announced the dates and teams for the inaugural Cancun Governor's Cup Tuesday. Unlike the other ESPN-run tournaments, the event will run three consecutive days, with the quarterfinals taking place on December 22 and the placement games slated for Christmas Eve. The field is lacking in star power, however, as only East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun) reached the NCAA Tournament in 2010. The Bucs will be joined by former conference mates Appalachian State (Southern), Colorado State (Mountain West), Mississippi (SEC), Northeastern (CAA), former C-USA member St. Louis (A-10), current C-USA club Southern Mississippi, and Texas State (Southland).
In a piece of self-indulgent scheduling news, Florida will play another neutral site game, adding a contest at the new Orlando Arena against UCF on December 1, to their appearance at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise against Kansas State. (The Golden Knights will appear in the opening game of that doubleheader, taking on Miami.) The matchup pits pupil versus student, as Florida head coach will face former assistant Donnie Jones, who will be in his first season at the helm in Orlando.
In postseason news, one major conference tournament may be headed to a much needed format change, while another looks to stick to the status quo, as reform efforts lost steam.
Big East coaches voted to scrap the conference's silly double-bye system. All sixteen teams will still participate, but the first round (eight games) will take two days to complete. The top 4 seeds will play the bottom four seeds on Tuesday, getting Wednesday off (when seeds 5 through 12 will play) before Thursday's quarterfinals. This move would mean all 16 teams have to win four games to claim the conference's automatic bid, while giving the top four a bye of sorts.
As the Newark Star-Ledger blog post points out, only three of the eight teams who earned a top four seed in the past two seasons actually made the conference semifinals. That means the double bye, and the little bit of rust that inevitably developed on the teams who earned it, was more of a hindrance than a help.
The Big East bracket would've looked like this in 2010 under this format.
The SEC looked to be headed to a new format or even new scheduling format, but Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that a move didn't gain much traction among the coaches, per Mississippi State coach Rock Stansbury. This is after a season where first in the West Division would've earned the fourth seed out of the East.
Just to remind you of the disparity between the divisions this season, the Bulldogs win over Florida in the SEC quarterfinals was the first win a West team earned against one of the East's top four teams. That's right, the six teams went 0-24 against the quartet, who all advanced to the NCAA Tournament, something the West was shutout of. Miss. State did grab a second victory, knocking off Vanderbilt in the semifinals to reach the final, where they lost to Kentucky, a defeat that relegated the Bulldogs to the NIT.