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April 28, 2018 — Into the gap

It’s already conference tournament season in NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse, as four tournaments are already underway, with two AQ champions being crowned by tomorrow afternoon.

Huh? How is that? Aren’t there a total of 13 tournaments and AQs on order?

Well, yes. But two conferences — the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Big South — have a one-week gap between the first round (held at home sites) and the final two rounds (held at a predetermined site). Another conference, the Patriot, starts its tournament on May 1, then plays its semifinal round on Friday with the final Sunday.

I don’t remember this happening in the past, though I did note that the Big Ten did something very similar in field hockey last fall. All nine teams played their preliminary tournament games on campus sites, then converged on the University of Michigan the following weekend for the semifinals and final.

In many college sports, the conference tournament not only serves as a final opportunity for teams to play their way into an NCAA Tournament, but also serves as the venue for a conference’s annual banquet and for the conference to release its league all-star team as well as announce its player and coach of the year.

It’s for this reason that I believe a conference loses a little bit if you have a break in between the first round and the semifinals, since you’re not going to have every team in the same location at the same time.

But I guess, in these days of athletic budgets being what they are (except for football and men’s basketball, that is), this is going to be the new norm.

 

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