Big Sky Conference reveals new basketball tournament format for 2023-26 | News, Sports, Jobs


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In this March 2021 photo, a women’s team begins to warm up during the first round of the Big Sky Conference basketball tournament at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

BROOKS NUANEZ, For the Big Sky Conference

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Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament roster for 2023-26, announced Friday, March 10, 2022.

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Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament roster for 2023-26, announced Friday, March 10, 2022.

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With Southern Utah leaving the Big Sky Conference this summer, changes to league basketball tournaments were needed.

Big Sky assistant commissioner Dan Satter told the Standard-Examiner last week that the league was taking the opportunity to review the tournament format and schedule, and that something could be finalized by the school presidents. in this week’s tournament.

Items for review included more rewarding success in the regular season, changing the ending of the tournament to get better TV windows, trying to get away from a tournament day with five games in total and seeing if it was possible to organize the men’s and women’s championship matches. the same day.

On Thursday, the Big Sky announced the new format for the 2023-26 tournaments and, it seems, put everything on their checklist.


The men’s and women’s tournaments will start about half a week earlier. The tournaments start on a Saturday and end on a Wednesday, with the two championship matches on the final day.

The women’s title match upgrades TV coverage to ESPNU and the men’s upgrades to ESPN2. While the rest of the matches remain on ESPN+, there is unlimited possibility that the men’s semi-finals will receive linear TV coverage.

“Our coaches, administrators and staff have taken the time and effort to reimagine what our basketball championships could look like in the future, and we are absolutely thrilled with the outcome on so many fronts,” the commissioner said. Big Sky, Tom Wistrcill, in a statement. “Improving the student-athlete experience, increasing our exposure to unprecedented levels, rewarding teams for competitive success during the regular season, and changing days to provide our teams with more rest and our fans with more competition. the weekend are among the many positive results.”

With 10 teams in each bracket, the top six seeds are goodbye, but not in the same format that Big Sky has used since switching to a site-neutral format for all comers in 2016.

Seeds 7-10 play a pair of first-round matches on Saturday, and the winners advance to play seeds No. 1 and 2 on Sunday. Those winners get the day off as seeds 3-6 face off in a pair of matches on Monday. The winners of seeds 3-6 on Monday turn around and face Sunday’s winners in the semifinals on Tuesday.

As Satter said last week, the feeling was that the WAC/WCC tiered bye formats — sending the No. 1 and 2 seeds straight to the semis — might be too extreme as the coaches of the league are concerned that the lower-ranked teams are getting on-court experience while the top seeds sit and wait.

So instead, the Big Sky gets the top seeds against some of the weaker teams and then gives them the day off. The 1-2 seeds need to win three games in four days. Seeds 3-6 still need to win three games in three days, and 7-10 need to win four games in five days to win the tournament.

The first four days of the tournament therefore have four matches per day between the men and women, with the final day of the championship holding both title matches. The men’s first round start time of 9:30 a.m. is eliminated.

The 2023 tournament will take place from March 4-8.

The all-comers format and neutral site were not on the table as potential changes. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments are under contract to remain in Boise through 2026 and the all-comers field is part of that contract with the Idaho Central Arena, the city, and the Boise Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The ability to plan ahead months, not days, and giving athletes from all schools the chance to compete in the tournament are things that schools and the conference have found beneficial, and there’s quite a consensus solid around the league in favor of the neutral – site championship.

The process began in the fall with a presentation to league coaches on possible new formats. From there, the league’s basketball committee, made up of three athletic directors and two senior female administrators, gathered input from men’s and women’s coaches, athletic directors, and Boise and ESPN partners.

This committee came up with a final recommendation, which was approved by the conference athletic directors and forwarded to the Presidents’ Council for a final vote.

Basketball conference schedules for 2022-23 and beyond will be announced later, Big Sky’s statement said Thursday.

With the tournament advanced in the schedule, fans might expect the Big Sky to keep the two-game series in early December that it began scheduling last season. From there, it seems likely that the remaining 16 conference games will be played in the usual window (usually the weekend where the schedule rotates from December to January), and the regular season will end a week early to allow for the new tournament schedule.

If the same format were applied from this season to next season, the 2022-23 schedule would see that first round of conferences likely land Dec. 1-3. A resumption of conference play Dec. 29-31 would give 9 weeks to complete the remaining 16 games. This could result in eight two-game weekends for each team with one week completely off, or involve a staggering of shuffled one-game weeks for each team.

With 10 shifts, the “lone wolf” schedule format that alters trip pairs to accommodate an odd number of shifts is probably done. That would leave more traditional, static travel pairs: Eastern Washington and Idaho, Portland State and Sacramento State, Idaho State and Weber State, Montana and the state of Montana, and northern Arizona and northern Colorado.


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