Big Sky to evaluate its conference tournament structure
While the question of where conference tournaments are played in power leagues tends to dominate the discussion in college basketball, that’s also an especially important question for smaller conferences. And given the fact that members of one-bid leagues can see their seasons boil down to a couple of days in March, it can be argued that the question of where a conference tournament should be played is of even greater importance to those conferences.
In recent years the Big Sky has allowed its regular season champion to host the conference tournament, a decision that rewards the team that had shown itself to be the conference’s best throughout the regular season. However the Big Sky will take a look at its conference tournament structure, with this move being announced on Wednesday.
“While our current format often leads to strong attendance and does a great job of protecting our top team, we also realize it has become problematic for many reasons,” Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said in the release. “Our school administrators and coaches have raised valid concerns, including travel costs, travel logistics, student-athlete welfare, and fan experience.
“We need to continue to have discussions regarding how many teams will qualify, and if we move to a predetermined site, where that will be and if the location will be the same for the men and the women.”
There are questions to be considered as evidenced by the commissioner’s comments, such as whether or not to play at a neutral site and the possibility of playing both men’s and women’s tournaments at the same location. The host school has won the last four Big Sky tournaments, with Montana being the last non-host to win the league’s automatic bid in 2010.
And there’s also the question of how many teams will qualify for the event, with the top eight teams being eligible for the 2015 conference tournament. That change comes as a result of the arrival of Idaho, pushing the number of members up to 12. There will be no byes in the tournament, meaning that the top seed won’t be advanced directly into the semifinals (as was the case in 2013 and 2014).