If only briefly, common sense reigns over the Big East for a day. The Big East basketball Tournament double-bye is history.
The Big East basketball coaches unanimously voted to get rid of the Big East tournament's double-bye format at the league's spring meetings Tuesday morning.
The new format, which is expected to be approved by the league's athletic directors on Wednesday and then must be voted on by the league's presidents, would pit the No. 1 seed vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, No. 3 vs. No. 14 and No. 4 vs. No. 13 on Tuesday's opening day of the 2011 tournament.
There's a lot of reasons for getting rid of the double-bye, most obvious being that it just makes the tournament stilted and awkward. But even more important is the fact that the double-bye doesn't really seem to provide any kind of benefit to the teams that get it. In the past two seasons, five of the eight teams to receive the "honor" have lost in their first game.
Syracuse has been on both sides of that equation. In 2009, six-seed Orange met three-seed UConn in the quarterfinals and upset the Huskies in a game you might remember. Then in 2010, the one-seed Orange were shocked by a frisky Georgetown team that had momentum and the experience of playing SU twice before.
In a way, the double-bye set-up was a great example of the way the Big East thinks (and subsequently why it's in the position it's currently in). It created a complicated system that removed the benefit earned by a top seed in order to make room for the bottom feeders that didn't really deserve to be there Shelter the lesser at the expense of the greater.
Now, if you're the No. 1 seed you get rewarded with a game against the worst team in the league, instead of jumping directly into a likely showdown with a decent seed. You can actually build a little momentum of your own.
There's going to be concern that the new system adds a game for top-seeds, which could wear them down for the NCAA Tournament. My answer would be...that's the job of the coaches, trainers and players to be conditioned enough to not make it an issue. Plenty of teams that won their conference tournament and the NCAA title in the same year.