With the arrival of Boston University and Loyola University (MD) for the 2013-14 season, the Patriot League has restructured its conference tournament format to accommodate all ten teams.
The men and women’s basketball tournaments will feature all 10 Patriot League members, and once again be played entirely at home sites. First-round contests will feature the 10th-seed at the seventh-seed, and the ninth-seed at the eighth-seed. Each tournament will then move to the quarterfinals held at the top four seeds, followed by the semifinals and championship at the site of the higher seeds. The bracket will not re-seed.
According to sources, the opening round games will be played on Monday evening, with the quarterfinals two days later on Wednesday. The #1 and #2 seeds have an even greater advantage now with their opponents having a quick turnaround and little preparation time. Furthermore, in the history of the Patriot League which dates back to 1990, a team seeded lower than #2 has never won the conference tournament.
With the expansion of the league to ten teams, the question of whether to move the tournament to a neutral site is one that will inevitably be posed. For a three year stretch (2002-04), the tournament was held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, MD for the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, but the neutral site experiment ultimately failed as attendance dwindled.
However, with the league increasing its footprint and missing classes due to travel time always top of mind for the powers that be at the Patriot League institutions, don’t be surprised if reverting back to a neutral site is considered. Look no further than the Patriot League’s mission statement regarding the place of athletics: “The Patriot League continually demonstrates that student-athletes can excel at both academics and athletics without sacrificing its high standards.”
Would having a team potentially miss three days of classes — Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday — due to travel be consistent with the Patriot League’s mission?
You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11