DESTIN, Fla. — In a move they hope will help their NCAA tournament chances, SEC basketball coaches are pushing to move the SEC tournament up a day so that the final is played on Saturday.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin confirmed that when the league’s coaches met with the athletics directors on Wednesday, that was one idea they mentioned.
“That’s a decision to be made above our heads,” Martin said. “But as coaches we spoke about that, yes.”
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, asked later about “some” of the coaches talking about a Saturday final, joked that “I think all of the coaches talked about it, based on what they saw.”
So will it happen? That may be up to the league’s television partners.
“We have some contractual obligations that have us placed on Sunday,” Sankey said. “So appreciate that input, and we’ll continue the dialogue.”
CBS and ESPN carry the SEC tournament. Sankey was asked if there was room for negotiation in those contracts to move every day of the tournament up a day.
“I’m not going to go further,” Sankey said. “I’m going to tell you that’s that what I said: Opportunity for continued dialogue.”
The concern for SEC coaches is that by holding the final on Sunday, just a few hours before the NCAA field is announced, there’s less time for the selection committee to react to what they see. Kentucky coach John Calipari pointed to this past year, when his team beat Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon, and yet Texas A&M was still seeded higher, a 3 seed, while Kentucky was a 4.
The SEC and the Big Ten are the only power conferences that still hold their championship on Sunday. The field is announced at 6 p.m. The sense among coaches is that finishing on Saturday, and having every other round a day earlier as well, gives the committee more time consider SEC teams and adjust their thinking.
Martin coached in the Big 12, at Kansas State, and the conference final is on a Saturday. He said he found that to be much more advantageous, pointing out that his team was once a 2 seed.
“The (selection) committee folks were able to watch that game, and have a night to sleep on it and say you know what, those guys are real good,” Martin said.
Georgia and Kentucky are the only two SEC teams to play on Saturday (i.e., make the semifinals) each of the past three years.