NEC changes postseason format to pod system
NEW YORK (AP) — The Northeast Conference is changing its women’s basketball postseason format, going to a pod system with the top two teams in the regular season hosting the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The championship game will still be played at the highest remaining seed. The schedule was also truncated with the quarters and semis played on back-to-back nights and the finals still played the day before the NCAA selections were made.
“There was a long wait between the regular season and our championship game,” NEC commissioner Noreen Morris said. “Some of the coaches that had been through it thought there has to be a better way to make the tournament feel more like a tournament as opposed to one game separated by three or four days. The women, more than the men, like the idea of having the feel of having a tournament. That’s where we came up with the idea.”
Not every coach was in favor of the new format. Charlie Buscaglia, who is in his second year at Robert Morris, wasn’t a big fan.
“I felt that through the course of the regular season, you work really hard for seeding at the mid-major level,” he said. “I thought that the way it was, was the best way for us. At the end of the day, I’ll find the joy in it. We’ll adjust.”
Robert Morris was picked second in the preseason coaches’ poll behind Saint Francis. Bryant, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut round out the top five. St. Francis, Brooklyn Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary’s, LIU and Wagner round out the poll.
The conference has altered its tournament format a few times over the past 20 years. Wagner hosted the men’s and women’s tournament in 1999, and then both tournaments moved to a neutral court in Trenton, New Jersey, for two seasons.
The women split from the men the next year, and the quarterfinals and semifinals were held at one predetermined site with the title game going to the home of the highest remaining seed. It stayed that way until 2005, when all games were played on campus sites of the higher seeded teams.
From 2008-10 the conference went back to the predetermined sites until the title game.
Finally, since 2011 all games were hosted on campus sites of the higher seeded teams.
“They’ve obviously tried things in the past and changed it after a year or two. I hope it works out well,” Buscaglia said.