The Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament will move to a Tuesday through Saturday format beginning with the 62nd annual event in 2015.
The new tournament schedule, mutually agreed upon by the ACC and ESPN, will feature Friday semifinal games at 7 and 9 p.m. ET, followed by the championship game on Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. All 14 tournament games will continue to be televised nationally by ESPN and the ACC Network.
Today's announcement came in conjunction with the ACC's annual Spring Meetings.
While next season will mark the first time since 1981 that the ACC Tournament has featured a Saturday night final, there is much historical precedent. The first 28 ACC Tournaments featured Saturday championship games, 27 of which were played in evening "prime time" slots. The 1982 tournament marked the first in which the conference began holding its semifinal games on Saturday afternoon, followed by the Sunday afternoon championship game.
"This is kind of a ‘Back to the Future' moment for our conference," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "The Sunday championship game worked tremendously well for more than three decades, but I believe our schools, teams and our fans will be excited about crowning a champion on Saturday night. This will be a win-win for everyone involved - players, coaches, fans - and we greatly appreciate our television partners, ESPN and the ACC Network, working with us to make this happen."
With the tournament now starting on Tuesday with the first-round games, the ACC regular season will conclude on Saturday of the previous weekend. Three first-round games on Tuesday, followed by four second-round games on Wednesday and four quarterfinal games on Thursday will precede the Friday semifinals and Saturday championship game.
As Ninja Swoff notes, the ACC men's basketball tournament championship game will return to Saturday night as it did prior to 1982. The championship game will receive "top billing" from ESPN. That makes a lot of sense given that the Worldwide Leader is now without a marquee tournament final to broadcast on Saturday night in the wake of the Big East / American Athletic Conference split.
Perfectly happy with the championship game back on Saturday night as it was back when Boston College was a member of the Big East. Though this comes at the cost of having the tournament begin on a Tuesday. If you loved ACC Tournament Wednesday, you're really going to love ACC Tournament Tuesday!
It'll never happen, but there's nothing wrong with qualifying the top 12 programs in the conference and starting this thing on Wednesday. Everyone doesn't deserve a participation ribbon. I say this as a fan of a program that wouldn't have even qualified for this year's ACC Men's Basketball Tournament in Greensboro.