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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Big East women's schedule staying at 16 games - for now

With the departure of West Virginia from the Big East at season's end, obviously some adjustments will need to be made to the way the Big East does is scheduling. So after the final game was played at the Big East tournament on Friday night, I asked Danielle Donehew, the Big East's Associate Commissioner for women's basketball, about whether there has been any talk of moving from 16 to 18 games.

Donehew said that the plan was to stay with the current 16-game format for next season and that it was important to let the teams know that well in advance to they can fill out the 14 non-conference slots in their schedule. Had there been a move to 18 conference games, each team would lose two non-conference slots. Unless one of the teams (Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist) who are set to join the Big East in 2013 opt to come into the Big East for next season the schedule grid will need to be altered slightly.

Under the current format each team plays the other squads with a home and home series for one opponent to comprise the 16-game schedule. With West Virginia leaving, the Big East will be at 15 teams next season meaning that there will be two teams that each conference team plays twice. All of this is assuming that Pittsburgh and Syracuse don't leave for the ACC until after next season. If that is the case, the conference would almost certainly move to an 18-game schedule during the 2013-14 season with 17 full-fledged Big East members (18 if Temple joins the league as has been rumored).

Donehew believes that the list of home and away opponents for the upcoming season will be released in June which is customary.

"We still have some time on that and to figure that out," Donehew said. "In terms of our communication with our schools, everybody is ready for 16 conference games so they had that help appropriately on their schedule. As we work on our metrics and begin working on our matchups, we will be able to tell them the matchups.

"Right now on the women's side, our league is used to 16 conference games but in terms of the future the other component is of course our television contracts and once those are continued to be negotiated and once we lock into new contracts then we would have to make sure we abide by those. I think it will be a combination of discussions at our annual meeting and an understanding of where we are from a TV contract perspective."

The Big East used an 18-game schedule in women's basketball from 1991-92 to 1998-99 but have played 16 games every season since. Under the current format Notre Dame is the repeat opponent for UConn. While Donehew did not go into specific matchups, it would not be a shock to see St. John's to become the second team to play the Huskies twice during the regular season.
"I think (the move to 18 conference games) will certainly be a topic to discuss in our annual meetings in May on both sides of the family, on men's and women's basketball, scheduling is always a hot topic and one that our coaches are very interested in," Donehew said. "Everyone is able to offer their opinions and we decide as a family in terms of our progress forward."

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