The new tournament schedule, mutually agreed upon by the ACC and ESPN, will feature Friday semifinal games at 7 and 9 p.m. ET, followed by the championship game on Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. All 14 tournament games will continue to be televised nationally by ESPN and the ACC Network.
Today's announcement came in conjunction with the ACC's annual Spring Meetings.
While next season will mark the first time since 1981 that the ACC Tournament has featured a Saturday night final, there is much historical precedent. The first 28 ACC Tournaments featured Saturday championship games, 27 of which were played in evening "prime time" slots. The 1982 tournament marked the first in which the conference began holding its semifinal games on Saturday afternoon, followed by the Sunday afternoon championship game.
"This is kind of a ‘Back to the Future' moment for our conference," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "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."
With the tournament now starting on Tuesday with the first-round games, the ACC regular season will conclude on Saturday of the previous weekend. Three first-round games on Tuesday, followed by four second-round games on Wednesday and four quarterfinal games on Thursday will precede the Friday semifinals and Saturday championship game.
Greensboro Coliseum – site of 10 Saturday ACC Tournaments finals from 1967 through 1980 – will play host to the event for the 26th overall time in 2015. The tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., in 2016, followed by a two-year run at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2017 and 2018.
The city of Charlotte, N.C., will host for the 13th time in 2019 when the ACC Tournament will be held at Time Warner Cable Arena, and the tournament will return to Greensboro Coliseum in 2020.