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Double bye likely done at Big East Tournament

After two seasons of watching top-four seeds lose in their opening-round games at Madison Square Garden, the Big East basketball coaches voted to end the Big East tournament’s double-bye format.

The unanimous vote took place at the league’s spring meetings this week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. It was first reported by AOL Fanhouse.

The new format must be approved by the Big East athletic directors and then voted on by the league’s presidents. In the past, recommendations by the league coaches have been virtually certain to be approved by ADs and presidents.

Big East associate commissioner John Paquette said no formal decision will be made for another month or so.

Under the new system, which would start for the 2011 Big East Tournament, Tuesday’s opening round games would match the No. 1 seed vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, No. 3 vs. No. 14 and No. 4 vs. No. 13.

The winners of those games would have the next day, Wednesday, off, while the remaining eight teams would play: No. 5 vs. No. 12, No. 6 vs. No. 11, No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9.

The winners of the first two round games would meet in the quarterfinals Thursday to resume the time-tested schedule. The semifinals are Friday and the championship game is Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Coaches were critical of the old format after five of the eight teams that received a double bye lost in their opening game, including two early dismissals by Pitt.

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