Change to the H-League Tourney possible

A big heads up to the Valpo Board’s bbtds for this one.

A possible change to the tournament would put a day between the quarters and semis, with the quarterfinals at campus sites.

In a review article for the Indy Star, Butler beat reporter David Woods talked about several things, including Garrett Butcher’s effectiveness guarding Anthony Hill.  After my second DVR run through of the game, I would say the most effective player guarding Anthony was the help defender, and Garrett Butcher simply had the most instances with the benefit of help defense.  In all, it was a Butler team effort to defend Anthony Hill, our guards couldn’t pass into the lane, and we lost.  Great defense, hopefully Butler can ride it all the way back to the Final Four.

Now, the reason I’m bringing up the piece is the same as bbtds’ reason: Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone, when asked about the possibility of a change to the tournament format, said that the H-League may consider a Tuesday-Friday-Sunday-Tuesday format for the future tournaments.

The only change would be that the semi-finals would move back a day to allow travel, as the Friday games would also be played at campus sites of the highest remaining seed.

I tend to like what they’re going for in this format.  The quarterfinals have always been the most poorly attended round, and would do the conference some good if they were played at campus sites.  Instead of Wright State and Cleveland State playing in Milwaukee, they would have played at the Wolstein Center; same with Valparaiso-Detroit, which would have been at the ARC.

Here’s my problem.  By changing it to a Friday-Sunday format, aren’t we giving up a well-attended game night?  The Saturday semi-finals are a huge deal, and are well attended because the fans of any school can get to the host city on Friday, stay through Saturday, and leave on Saturday night or Sunday.

By playing the semi-finals on Sunday, you put up the third round against the Missouri Valley Conference’s Arch Madness Championship.  While the H-League passed up the MVC as far as conference quality this season, Arch Madness is still arguably the biggest tournament outside of the BCS conferences.

I'd rather not put our semi-finals against Arch Madness' championship.

Now don’t take that as an indication I approve of a neutral site tournament; the idea of the entire conference gathering in a city for a four-day tournament is a great vision.  Say, for instance, we play four days at Fort Wayne’s War Memorial Coliseum or the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.  That would be nice and everything, but while we passed the MVC up on the courts, they still have a Big Ten level following.  They pour into St. Louis, but we would have a trickle from each school; the only schools that would bring more than 1,000 fans to a tournament game at the Sears Centre would be Valpo, Milwaukee, Wright State and Butler.  And even a couple of those might struggle to get there.

Here’s my proposal.  Change the days of the tournament to Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday.  You put the lower seed winners on the road on Wednesday and Friday.  The Horizon League quarterfinals take place on Thursday, which is still a big entertainment night.  And the semi-finals are still going up as the biggest thing going on in the midwest on Saturday night in the host city.

WH from the Valpo board brings up a couple good points; allowing this change gives the three and four seeds an advantage that the five and six seeds do not have.  In the current format, the three seed really has no advantage over the six seed other than the fact that they played the worst team in the first round.

The 1 and 2 seeds still have byes to the semi-finals, the 3 and 4 seeds are a little less gassed.

I'm not gonna lie, I'd rather travel to Indy on Friday and go out to Howl at the Moon that night.

Should my days be adopted, I’d support it.  The idea of Friday quarterfinals, when that day could be used by fans to travel to and explore the host city, falls flat in my book.  Yes, that could be Saturday instead, but if we do it my way, we get Friday for enjoyment and then Sunday as well.  A Sunday afternoon championship semi-final would be followed by departure immediately for every team and its fans.

In any case, it’s good to get the discussion going.  Obviously there are teams that have serious problems with the current format, namely anyone who has sucked for the past decade and Valparaiso.  The Crusaders’ fans have a gripe with the double-bye, but as long as the Horizon League is struggling to put a regular season champion in the tournament as an at-large not named Butler, this is how it’s gonna be.

That doesn’t mean we can’t tweak it, and I like the plan to help out the three and four seeds.  Let’s just take it a step further and be mindful of the entertainment side of the tournament.

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