Big East to change tourney format

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The Big East announced its format for an expanded 18-team men's basketball tournament beginning in the 2013-14 season and featuring two play-in games with the lowest-seeded teams.

Those play-in games would take place on the Monday of tourney week at a site yet to be determined in the New York area. Madison Square Garden, which hosts the Big East tournament, is an option, but further evaluation must be done before any decisions are made on a host site.

The tournament bracket would be set up the same way as the NCAA tournament bracket. On Tuesday of tournament week, the top four seeds will play the bottom four seeds. On Wednesday, the middle seeds will play.

This would give the Tuesday winners an advantage since they'd have a day off before the quarterfinals will begin Thursday.

Coaches were unanimously in favor of having all 18 future Big East members play in their conference tournament.

"They've been in support of this for a couple of years," associate commissioner Dan Gavitt said. "As our membership grows, this is a great opportunity to change our format."

As for the regular season, there is some consideration being given to expanding league play to 20 games.

"In effect, you'd almost be playing what would traditionally have been nonconference-quality games by going into new marketplaces and bringing new members into your own building," Gavitt said. "We're going to study that further, but we're going to continue playing at least an 18-game conference schedule."

For the women's Big East tournament, play-in games will be held Thursday of tourney week. The highest seeds will continue to earn double byes.

The women's regular-season conference schedule will remain at 18 games.