A new Anaheim address and a redesigned format will bring a fresh feel to Big West March Madness come tourney time.
The first major change is the tournament’s move from the Anaheim Convention Center, where the Big West had been playing its championship since 2001, to the Honda Center, a 17,000+ seat arena which plays host to big concerts, traveling stage shows and is the home ice of the Anaheim Ducks.
"The Big West Conference is delighted to continue its long-term relationship with the city of Anaheim and keep its signature event in the center of the conference's geographic footprint,” said Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell in a statement posted on the Big West’s official site. “The Big West and Honda Center have developed a strong relationship over the years, and this is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to play in a building that has hosted five NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship preliminary round events over the last decade."
As Farrell alluded to, the Honda Center hosted NCAA Regionals in 1998, 2001 and 2003, while hosting first and second round action in 2008. In addition, the Big West and the Honda Center will host the Men’s west regional in the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Along with a change of venue, the 2011 Big West tourney will also see new formats for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
The men’s tournament will return to a traditional, seeded tournament, meaning no team will receive a bye as they did in years past. Instead, the top 8 teams from the Big West will play four quarterfinal games beginning on March 10. Seeding will be based on conference standings, so: #1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, #4 vs. #5. The day of quarterfinals will followed by two semifinal games on March 11 and the championship with the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line slated for March 12 at 5:00 p.m.
The women’s side of things will also see a new format. The top four teams in the women’s conference standings will host the lower four seeds in home contests to take place league wide on March 8. The winners of those games will then join the Men in Anaheim for semifinal games on March 11, with the Big West Tournament’s Women’s championship to tip off at 1:00 p.m. on March 12.