Listen Now: Morning News

MEC basketball tournament format set, spectators welcome in Wheeling

(MEC Commissioner Reid Amos Citynet Statewide Sportsline interview)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sixteen teams will make their way to Wheeling in two weeks for the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. After opening-round games at campus sites on Monday, March 1, eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams will head to WesBanco Arena.

Quarterfinal games are set for March 4 & 5. Men’s and women’s semifinals will be played on March 6 with the championships set for the following day.┬áSchedules will be more spread out than the league’s typical tournament format.

“Our plan is to adjust the timing of games,” said MEC Commissioner Reid Amos. “Normally, we have an afternoon session and a night session with two games in each session. This year because of COVID-19 protocols, every game will be its own session. So we will have an eleven o’clock session for a single game, a two o’clock session for a single game and then five and eight. The building will be cleared of fans immediately after every game to provide enough time to turn it over for the next game.”

The league also announced that a limited number of fans will be permitted to attend the tournament at WesBanco Arena. Ticket sales for each contest will be restricted to 15 percent of arena capacity. Tickets for the games in Wheeling will be put on sale following opening-round games on March 1.

While many MEC basketball programs have dealt with starts and stops in their respective schedules due to COVID, many teams are on track to complete their 16-game schedules by the close of the regular season next Saturday.

“At one point as little as two weeks ago, our women’s basketball teams had played 59 out of a scheduled 60 contests at that point. So we continue to be well above ninety percent on the women’s side although we will lose a handful of contests down the stretch here. And on the men’s side, we have been in the upper-80’s in percentage of getting contests in. Now you have to have a dance partner. Two teams lose a game when only one is not available.

“They have done a great job on the campuses to keep themselves in a position where they have been able to play.”

Shortly after the MEC Basketball Tournament ends, the conference’s football season will begin. Starting on March 11, all twelve football-playing schools will compete in a five-game season. The league will be broken into two divisions and the division winners will square off in the MEC title game in late-April.

“I’m sure our players would tell you that practice is something they tolerate to get the opportunity to play in games. We are thrilled to provide the student-athletes, after missing a season in the fall, and this being a season where they won’t be charged a year of eligibility, we are still going to give them an opportunity to put on the uniforms and go out and compete this spring.”