New Format Has Rockets Looking Forward to 2016 MAC Tournament

January 28th, 2016 Posted in From Our Alumni, The Rockets

What’s old is what’s new for Mid-American Conference basketball. And UT’s two head coaches are just fine with that.

The 2016 MAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, held annually at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, will return to a playoff format that was in place from 2000-11. Following first-round games at campus sites for both the men and women on Monday, March 7, the women’s quarterfinals will be held on Wednesday, March 9 followed by the men’s quarterfinals on Thursday, March 10. The women’s semifinals are set for the afternoon of Friday, March 11 with the men’s semifinals to follow that evening.  The championship games for both men and women are set for Saturday, March 12.

In the past four years, the league’s top two seeds were placed directly into the semifinals.  In addition, the No. 3 and 4 seeds automatically qualified for the quarterfinals. As a result, the bottom eight of the league’s 12 teams had to win five games to win the MAC Tournament and earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Toledo’s coaches think the return to the traditional format is fairer and will make for more exciting matchups in the early rounds.

“I believe this is a positive change for our conference tournament,” said Tod Kowalczyk, now in his sixth season as the men’s head coach. “This makes the event great for our fans because they can see a lot of exciting basketball in a true tournament format.”

Added women’s head coach Tricia Cullop, now in her eighth year at the Toledo helm, “I like the fact that the MAC is going back to the old format. I think the last couple of years there was too long of a break before teams advanced to the final games. Going back to this format will help keep teams sharp. It’s important to maintain the fundamentals. It’s also hard to replicate what you face in a game in practice. Having the opportunity to play some earlier round games will help everybody.”

Both UT’s teams played well in early MAC action are expected to be a factor in the tournament. The women won four of their first five MAC games thanks to the hot shooting of senior guards Brenae Harris (14.9 ppg) and Ana Capotosto (11.5 ppg). The UT men are led by the league’s top two scorers, senior center Nathan Boothe (19.8 ppg) and junior guard Jonathan Williams (18.6 ppg).

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