ACC Commissioner John Swofford described it as a Back to the Future moment and, indeed, the conference has decided to relive a part of its past. The league on Tuesday announced that the ACC mens basketball tournament championship game would be played on Saturday night, just as it was decades ago.
For the tournaments first 28 years the championship game was on a Saturday and on a Saturday night in 27 of those years. And so it will be again after what the conference described as a mutually agreed upon decision between the ACC and ESPN, the leagues primary television partner.
The tournament final, played annually on Sunday afternoon since 1982, will move to Saturday night beginning next season. The game, broadcast by ESPN, will start at 8:30, and it will follow a pair of semifinal games on Friday that also will be in primetime.
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, Swofford said in a statement. 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 championship game now on Saturday, the tournament will begin on Tuesday. Quarterfinal Friday, as it came to be known, will move to Thursday, and the semifinal games on Friday night will be scheduled for 7 and 9.
Since the tournament will end a day earlier so, too, will the regular season. The ACCs final regular-season games will be on Saturday before the start of the tournament on Tuesday.
The tournament will be at the Greensboro Coliseum next season before moving to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., in 2016. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host the tournament in 2017 and 18 before it returns to North Carolina in 2019, when Charlotte will host the event.
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter