Big East Coaches Want 17 Teams In Tournament

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies drives with the ball against Brandon Triche #20 of the Syracuse Orange during the semifinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Charles Barkley just read that headline and passed out.

While I'm sure the Big East coaches would be ecstatic to have each of their teams in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year, right now their goal is simply to have all 17 of their teams, once TCU joins, make the Big East Tournament.

The Big East Conference men's basketball coaches voted Tuesday to allow all 17 teams to compete in the league’s tournament starting in 2012.

With TCU joining the league for the 2012-13 school year, the basketball membership will grow from 16 to 17 teams. There was some thought that the league might opt to only allow the top 12 teams to play in Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament. That’s how the tournament was restructured from 2006-08 until the league allowed all 16 teams to advance to New York beginning with the 2009 tournament.

The most ovbious way to make this happen would be to just keep the same format but add one more game, a play-in between the 16 and 17 seeds (let's just pencil in TCU and DePaul now). That would mean either adding one more day to the tournament and creating the opportunity that a team could play six-straight days, however unlikely that might be.

In fact, with many Big East teams still playing on the Sunday leading into the tournament, there's a chance a team could play Sunday and then immediately begin the Big East Tournament the next say as part of this play-in game. A team could, in theory, play seven days in a row. We may have an issue here.

We know how Jim Boeheim feels about the current format. He's like to see the double-bye go bye-bye. But for that to happen the league would likely have to drop the number of teams that qualify for the tourney and I just don't see that happening.

Also, just because the coaches voted for it, don't assume this is going to happen. Last year the coaches voted to change the format of the tournament, eliminating the double-bye. The league presidents shot it down as the current system means more days, which means more money (not that they said that, but, c'mon...).

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