Coaches Vote to End Double Bye in Big East Tournament
By Brett McMurphy

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- 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 must be approved by the league's athletic directors 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.

On Wednesday's second day, the remaining eight teams would play: No. 5 vs. No. 12, No. 6 vs. No. 11, No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9.

FanHouse first reported last week that the coaches wanted to get rid of the double-bye format.

For the past two seasons, the Big East tournament had awarded two byes into the quarterfinals to the top four seeds. Of the eight teams to get the two byes, five have been upset in their opening game.

"Our athletic directors have asked that we table [the decision] so we can study it, before we advance it to the presidents," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said. "We would try and get his done, hopefully by the end of June."

The athletic directors are expected to approve the recommendation and then it would only need a majority vote by the league's presidents to change it for the 2011 tournament.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino previously told FanHouse that the majority of the league's coaches were for changing the tournament -- but it turned out to be unanimous.

"I'm not for the double bye," Pitino told FanHouse. "It doesn't keep you sharp enough."

At last year's spring meetings, there was a discussion to change the double-bye format, but ultimately no change was made.

"There was some serious discussion about changing it last year," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Dan Gavitt, the Big East's associate commissioner for basketball, told FanHouse last week that the regular 16-team bracket, without byes, "is probably more fair from top to bottom. We're now [requiring] four teams [in the current format that win on Tuesday] to win five games to win the tournament," Gavitt said. "But you do have to consider how it affects the teams for the NCAA tournament the following week."

For the past two seasons, the top four seeds received two byes, while seeds five-through-eight received one bye. The bottom eight seeds met in the first round.

Without a double-bye the top four seeds will actually have to play one more game if they reached the Big East final than if the double-bye was in place. And, in theory, could be worn down more for the NCAA tournament the following week.