Coaches like new Big 12 basketball championship format -

Coaches like new Big 12 basketball championship format

By the time the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship ends this week in Oklahoma City, somebody may find a flaw in the new tournament format.

But heading in, the decision to move to a Wednesday through Saturday format is a popular one. Among those most happy are the conference coaches.

"There's no question it's a plus," Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon said.

Since its inception in 1997, the Big 12 title game had been a mid-afternoon ABC/ESPN staple on Selection Sunday. In the process, it became an unintentional warmup for the big announcement on CBS.

No matter how good the basketball - like Kansas' overtime win over Texas two years ago - the result seemed to get overshadowed by what came next.

"I think it gives you a chance for a day to celebrate winning the conference tournament," said Texas coach Rick Barnes, a longtime advocate of the move.

The change isn't just about savoring a special moment.

Among the other likely benefits:

More accurate seeding: Because of the Big 12's late finish, the bracket was all but done when the title game ended.

Now the NCAA selection committee will have 24 hours to mull the results.

"I think it gives the selection committee a better chance to get it right," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "The more time you have, the better chance you can get it the way it should be."

The benefits will extend beyond the teams in the title game. The committee, which gathers Tuesday in Indianapolis, will be better able to evaluate teams that might have needed a win or two to enhance their rsums.

Additional preparation: Barnes remembers a few years ago busing back to Austin from Dallas after a Sunday championship game and then making plans to get to Denver for a first-round NCAA game Thursday.

Other coaches can relate.

"I think it's a tough turnaround to win three games and then play an NCAA game on Thursday," Turgeon said. "Our top teams that do well and make it to the finals, it gives them more rest, which I think will help them in the NCAA Tournament."

Conference coaches had sought a change for several years.

The Big 12 had to wait until the end of its TV contract with ABC and ESPN. The new TV deal, which runs through the 2015-16 season, will have the conference title game on Saturday. The Big 12 landed a choice new time slot at 5 p.m., leading into the Big East title game.

In conjunction, the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship shifted from Saturday to Sunday, a logical step with that tournament field announced Monday.

Some concerns were raised.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe worried about possibly inconveniencing fans with the move.

Another potential problem: lost class time for the players. But teams that lose in the first round will now have a chance to return to campus for classes later in the week

"Certainly, for what we need to do in preparing for the NCAA Tournament, I think it's a good deal for us," Beebe said.

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