For the first time since 1981, the ACC will hold its men’s basketball championship game on the Saturday night next season. The conference announced on Tuesday that it is putting its tournament on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule.
Since 1982, the conference has held its tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon and its championship game on Sunday afternoon, the same day as Selection Sunday. But after the Big East took its tournament to Fox Sports starting last season, ESPN suddenly had a few major holes to fill on Friday and Saturday night during Championship Week. So the ACC — which in 2015 will feature former Big East schools Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College — swooped right in. The conference will hold its tournament semifinals at 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday night, and its final at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
“This is kind of a ‘Back to the Future’ moment for our conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The Sunday championship game worked tremendously well for more than three decades, but I believe our schools, teams and our fans will be excited about crowning a champion on Saturday night. This will be a win-win for everyone involved – players, coaches, fans – and we greatly appreciate our television partners, ESPN and the ACC Network, working with us to make this happen.”
The ACC tournament will now feature three first-round games on Tuesday, four second-round games on Wednesday and four quarterfinal games on Thursday. After returning to Greensboro, N.C., for the 26th time next season, the tournament will move to Verizon Center in 2016 and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2017 and 2018.