Big East meetings: Tournament outlook

Television and basketball were the topics of discussion in Tuesday's morning session in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The Big East needs to plan for future conference tournaments. In 2013, the conference will have just 15 teams playing basketball and only 14 will be eligible for the tournament (UConn cannot play in the NCAA tournament and is therefore banned from competing for the auto-bid). In 2014, the Big East's basketball league will balloon to 18 teams, which might be too many to cram into Madison Square Garden.

The basketball coaches have told the conference athletic directors that they prefer to invite all 18 schools to compete in the tournament. Athletic directors are going to have to work out the details of such an arrangement, which would probably put the 15- through 18-seeds into a "play-in" game on the Monday of tournament week.

Those play-in games would have to be at a neutral site, with Madison Square Garden preferred if the conference can extend it's stay at the World's Most Famous Arena to block the professional teams that call it home out for an entire week. If not, league officials have said that the location of the games would have to be close to New York City to allow the winning teams to easily travel to play in the next round at MSG.

If the Big East can't host the play-in games at MSG and puts them out to bid, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn might be an option, but the Atlantic 10 tournament taking place there in the same week would probably create some issues. The home of Seton Hall basketball, the Prudential Center, is another option — just two stops on NJ Transit from Madison Square Garden, but a deal would have to be worked out with the New Jersey Devils hockey team, who control the arena.

If neither of those arenas were available, the Big East could look to Atlantic City. The Atlantic 10 recently abandoned Boardwalk Hall after a successful run there and the city is hoping to land another big college basketball event. A pair of play-in games isn't quite what Boardwalk Hall was looking for, but the Big East is more high-profile than most of the other conferences they could reasonably book that week.

Beyond that, there is the aging Nassau Colliseum on Long Island that is the primary home of the New York Islanders hockey team, the Izod Center arena in New Jersey's Meadowlands complex that has no primary tenant anymore, and a number of smaller arenas throughout the New York Metro Area.

Campus sites could also be considered, but that would make travel planning for the play-in teams more complicated, with potential red-eye flights needed from Houston or Tampa to New York on Monday night.

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