The Atlantic 10 on Thursday evening announced significant schedule tweaks to both its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as its official seeding policy for the tournaments.
The league announced late last month that its men’s hoops tournament would be co-hosted in Richmond by VCU’s Siegel Center and the University of Richmond’s Robins Center. It was originally supposed to be hosted at the Barclays Center in New York City, but that was not as practical this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league has now tweaked the layout of the tournament. It moved the dates for the majority of the tournament up from March 10-14 to March 3-6. The new dates will account for just the preliminary rounds, which will still be hosted at the Siegel Center and Robin Center — the first round and semifinals at the Siegel Center and second-round and quarterfinal games at both facilities.
The men’s tournament championship game will still be held on March 14, Selection Sunday, but that will now be played at Dayton’s UD Arena. That will provide an extended runway between the semifinals and final, that could help account for any issues among the involved programs leading up to the championship game.
According to the league’s announcement, “Tipping the men’s championship on March 3 provides additional play dates and flexibility for the league to adjust to any unforeseen COVID-19 interruption.”
The league will look at all options to reschedule regular-season games that were scheduled to be played after March 1. VCU was scheduled to play at Dayton on March 3, and Richmond was scheduled to play at Massachusetts that day. VCU and Richmond were scheduled to meet for a second time on March 6 at the Robins Center.
In addition, the women’s tournament will move back from March 3-7 to March 10-14. It will still be hosted at the Siegel Center as previously scheduled. According to the league, that tweak is in response to a later start to the women’s hoops postseason schedule. The selection show for the women’s NCAA tournament will be aired March 15.
The league, in its announcement, stated that it will be “implementing significant COVID-19 risk mitigation and testing protocols in preparing for both championships.” That will include an increase in COVID-19 testing. Teams currently test at least three times a week.
Because of the variance in regular-season league games played by programs this year, the seeding policy for the men’s and women’s tournaments will be that teams above 60% of the median number of league matchups played by all 14 teams will be seeded based on conference winning percentage. Teams below 60% of the median will be seeded based on the NCAA’s NET rankings, but will not be eligible for a regular-season title. Both the men’s and women’s league schedules were originally slated to include 18 games for each program.