All Invited

This season will be the last time a men's or women's basketball team will miss the Big East tournament.

The presidents of the Big East Conference voted to include all 16 member institutions in the men's and women's basketball championship tournaments beginning in 2009. The Presidents took this action at their annual meeting, which was held Nov. 6 in Philadelphia, Pa.

"Our Presidents performed a very thorough review of the tournament format," said Commissioner Michael Tranghese. "After extensive deliberation, it was decided that inviting all teams to participate would provide a special opportunity to every men's and women's basketball student-athlete."

Currently, the top 12 teams in the final regular-season standings advance to participate in the men's and women's championships. The men's championship is held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. The women's championship is held in Hartford, Conn., at the Hartford Civic Center.

The new format will have the teams seeded 9 through 16 meet on the first day of competition. The matchups will be No. 9 vs. No. 16, No. 10 vs. No. 15, No. 11 vs. No. 14 and No. 12 vs. No. 13.

The winners of those four games will meet seeds 5 through 8 on the second day of play. The 9/16 winner will advance to play the No. 8 seed. The 10/15 winner will play the No. 7 seed. The 11/14 winner will meet the No. 6 seed. The 12/13 winner will play the No. 5 seed.

Those four winners will advance to play the top four seeds in the quarterfinal round. Thus, the top four seeded teams still will not play until the quarterfinals, which occurs in the current 12-team format.

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