The America East announced Thursday afternoon that its men’s basketball tournament format will change for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, with the high seed in each individual matchup playing host. The bracket will be re-seeded after the quarterfinals so the highest remaining seeds will match up with the lowest remaining seeds in the semifinals.
The change had been in the making since June, when, according to the conference’s press release, the league’s athletic directors and presidents endorsed the America East coaches’ unanimous proposal for the switch.
Under the current system, a predetermined site holds the quarterfinals and semifinals while the highest remaining seed hosts the championship. The announcement of the format change comes just seven months after top-seeded Stony Brook fell to fourth-seeded Albany in the semis at the Great Danes’ SEFCU Arena.
“I think it’s important that if you’ve played well all year that you have every chance to get [to the NCAA tournament],” Binghamton University head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “If you’re the one seed and you have three home playoff games and somebody comes into your building and beats you, they deserve it.”
“[If] you play your biggest game of the season in a true road game with the pressure of being the one seed, that’s a tough spot to be in.”
Dempsey, whose Rider teams experienced two different formats of the MAAC tournament, said that justice was not the only driving factor behind the switch.
“Now you have four home teams, all the venues are sold out,” Dempsey said. “It’s a great experience for the student athletes. I’ve seen [the MAAC tournament] when it was at Siena. I’ve seen it when it was at Springfield, which was neutral. Neither worked in my opinion.”