America East Conference clarifies basketball postseason outlook

UAlbany women's basketball head coach Colleen Mullen is shown at a recent practice. (Peter R. Barber)

UAlbany women's basketball head coach Colleen Mullen is shown at a recent practice. (Peter R. Barber)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, College Sports, Sports

A day after announcing the format for its regular-season schedule, the America East Conference offered an update regarding the outlook for its men’s and women’s basketball postseason.

“Our current playoff format is still in place,” a league spokesperson wrote Tuesday to The Daily Gazette. “However, if we need to make adjustments, the current format gives us flexibility to adapt. So, right now, we’ll wait to see how the season develops in terms of how many games are successfully played before making a final decision.”

On Monday, the America East announced its basketball teams will play 18-game conference schedules during the 2020-21 campaign, with each school playing the other nine twice apiece. Instead of a traditional home-and-home series of games, though, conference action this upcoming season amid the coronavirus pandemic will consist of two teams playing each other on back-to-back weekend days at the same site.

That means that UAlbany’s basketball teams will play some opponents only at its home SEFCU Arena, and other opponents only on the road.

The league announced conference games will start Dec. 19, but didn’t release a full schedule Monday or dictate how the conference’s postseason will be conducted. UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown said there had not been “much discussion” regarding postseason play because the focus, prior to Monday, had been on setting up the regular season.

In recent years, eight men’s and eight women’s basketball teams have participated in the America East playoffs, which has consisted of higher-seeded teams hosting games during the three-round tournament. Brown suggested Monday it’s possible the league could shift to playing a postseason tournament at one site to alleviate health concerns related to traveling, and the league appears to be open to changing its format based on how its regular season plays out.

As part of the league’s schedule, multiple weekends will be left open so that postponed games are able to be made up. With the league’s first conference games set for Dec. 19 and 20, the America East will have 11 weekends through the end of February for its teams to play nine two-game series.

The 2021 NCAA tournament’s bracket is scheduled to be unveiled on March 14.

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