The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced a revised format for the 2012 FirstEnergy MAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena next March.
Recently approved by the Conference's Council of Director of Athletics, the new format will seed both tournaments by rewarding the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds with a bye into the semifinal round, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will receive a bye to the quarterfinal round.
"This continues the efforts of our membership to challenge the status quo," said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher. "The new format will increase the importance of each regular season game and reward teams that excel during the regular season and bring greater value to the seeds earned by the top teams."
The MAC will host the second round on Wednesday, March 7, the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 8, and the semifinals on Friday, March 9. All three days will feature two afternoon Women's games and two evening Men's contests. The Men's and Women's Championship Games will be played on Saturday, March 10 at times to be announced at a later date.
"We are very excited to implement the new tournament format to better position our regular season champions and highest performing teams for success in the NCAA National Championship and other post-season tournaments," said Brad Bates, Director of Athletics at Miami University and Chair of the MAC Council of Directors of Athletics. "We believe this change will reward teams for their body of work and strength of schedule over the course of a season and provide greater opportunity for national success."
The 2012 FirstEnergy MAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments will begin March 7-10, 2012 in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Men's opening round games will begin on campus sites Monday, March 5 for seeds No. 5-No. 12, while the Women's opening round games will begin on campus sites Saturday, March 3, also for seeds No. 5-No. 12.
Last year, the MAC and Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena announced a six-year contract extension that will keep the FirstEnergy MAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament at the Q through 2017. This contract extension guarantees the continuation of the conference tournament at the same neutral site since 2000.
"Changing the tournament bracket falls in line with our philosophical approach to each of the MAC Championships," said Greg Christopher, Director of Athletics at Bowling Green State University and Chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee. "Our tournaments and championships are about preparing our best teams for post-season. With that in mind, it makes sense to give our top teams byes and better-position their paths to the championship."
The FirstEnergy MAC Tournament will also continue to feature the MAC FanFest at Tower City Center. Throughout the entire tournament, the MAC FanFest is free and open to the public to allow MAC fans the opportunity to interact with cheerleaders, mascots and bands from their favorite MAC school and participate in activities including -- free throw contests, dunk contests, corn hole contest, tattoo booth, Cavs inflatable's and much more.
"I'm very supportive of the changes to our conference basketball tournament for several reasons. First, it gets both the men's and women's tournaments aligned more closely which is good for everyone in our conference. Secondly, it rewards programs that over a 16-game conference schedule perform at the highest level and increases their opportunity to represent our conference at the NCAA Tournament. We expect that these changes will maximize the chances that the best teams in the MAC – those that would be in consideration for NCAA at-large bids – are playing deeper into our tournament," said Warde Manuel, Director of Athletics, the University at Buffalo.