Feb. 17, 2010
Following the success of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championship which saw new attendance records and a positive response from local fans and the conference membership, the league office announced the expansion of the neutral site format which will bring all 13 Sun Belt men's and women's basketball teams to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the 2010 Championship being held March 6-9.
The tournament will be conducted over four days in Hot Springs with all 13 member institutions participating. The conference will not utilize first round campus games as had been the format in previous years. Instead, the conference will use two playing courts for the first and quarterfinal rounds in the Summit Arena-Hot Springs Convention Center complex. Fans that purchase a pass for a session will be able to use their tickets for both courts.
The opening round on Saturday, March 6 will have a total of ten games contested - five men's games and five first round women's games. The first day will be broken up in two sessions with the morning session consisting of six games with the first game of the tournament set to tip at 10:45 a.m. (ET). Game times will be staggered throughout the day so that Sun Belt fans can go from court to court to watch as much basketball as they wish. The second session on Saturday will start with a 7:30 p.m. (ET) tip time and the final game of the day is set for 10 p.m. (ET).
The quarterfinals on Sunday, March 7 will have eight total games - four men's games and four women's games. Sunday's first session will begin at 1 p.m. (ET) and the second session will again start at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Both of Sunday's sessions will feature four games.
The semifinals will be conducted on Monday, March 8 and the tournament will conclude with the men's and women's championship games taking place on Tuesday, March 9. The semifinals and championship games will follow the same format as in previous years and only one court will be needed for these games.
Tip time for the women's championship game is set for 2 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU as part of the Sun Belt Conference's new agreement with ESPN. The men's championship game will tip at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. The Sun Belt Conference men's basketball championship game has been broadcast nationally by ESPN for 29 consecutive years, marking its longest affiliation with any conference in the country.
As in year's past, the top two teams from both the East and West Division, along with the team with next best conference record regardless of division will receive a bye into the quarterfinals.
The 2009 Sun Belt Conference Championship saw a new attendance record set for the women's basketball tournament and the highest total attendance for the men's tournament since 2003. Tickets can be purchased by calling the FAU ticket office at 866 FAU-OWLS (328-6957). Fans can find more information about the tournament by clicking here.