Atlantic 10 flipping dates of men’s, women’s tournaments, source says; change intended to mitigate COVID-19 risk

The Atlantic 10 Conference is continuing its proactive approach to dealing with its postseason men’s basketball championship by moving the bulk of the tournament to March 3-6 at multiple sites in Richmond, Va., essentially flipping the dates of the men’s and women’s tournaments to help mitigate concerns about COVID-19 disruptions running into their respective national championships.

A source close to the league told Sporting News the A-10 men’s championship now will begin on a Wednesday that previously had been held open for possible rescheduling of games lost to COVID disruptions. The semifinals will be staged that Saturday.

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Games will be played at VCU’s Siegel Center and the Robins Center, where the University of Richmond plays. The league previously had announced it was moving the men’s tournament to those two venues from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, allowing there to be less intersection between the competing schools.

The two semifinal winners will advance to the championship game on Selection Sunday, March 14, enabling the A-10 to keep its television obligation to CBS that afternoon intact. The championship game will be in Dayton, Ohio, which is only a two-hour bus ride to Indianapolis, where at least the league’s automatic qualifier will be headed for the NCAA Tournament. Participants in the NCAA Tournament must produce seven consecutive days of negative COVID-19 tests to enter the “controlled environment” in Indianapolis; this will allow the A-10’s tournament candidates to be inactive on the majority of those days.

The women’s tournament now will be conducted March 10-14, with the site in Richmond unchanged.

Because the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship does not begin until March 21, three days after the men’s tournament, those teams from the Atlantic 10 that do qualify still will have at least seven days between the close of conference tournament competition and the start of the NCAAs.

Several of the most successful men’s basketball teams in the Atlantic 10 this season have been impacted by COVID disruptions. Saint Louis, 11-3 and ranked 35th by, has played only six conference games. St. Bonaventure has managed to play 11 conference games but only got in two non-league games and stands 10-3.

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