The Butler men’s and women’s basketball teams will be wrapping up their seasons in the next couple weeks, which means conference championships are right around the corner.
The major difference for the Atlantic 10 Conference compared to the Horizon League is the tournament is—at least for the men—played entirely on a neutral court.
“(The Atlantic 10 Tournament) will have its set of challenges,” men’s coach Brad Stevens said. “The biggest difference for us is that’s a long way for our fan base to travel, and it’s an expensive trip to make.”
In the Horizon League, game locations are based on seeding, with the higher seeds claiming home-court advantage. The regular season champion receives a bye into the semifinals and home-court advantage for all remaining games should it win out.
“I like the idea of anything that pertains to tournament play being on a neutral floor,” Stevens said. “I understand why, in the Horizon League, we didn’t do it that way, and I voted for that. But I do like the idea of playing a neutral court.”
The entire men’s A-10 Conference Championship will be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., March 14-17.
Mike Freeman, associate athletic director, said each A-10 team is given 150 tickets for the conference tournament. Freeman said the tickets cover the women’s championship game and all men’s tournament games.
“We feel like we are going to sell that many,” Freeman said. “We’ve been working and talking about some other ways to get our hands on some more tickets so that we can help our fans get out there.”
Tickets are also available directly through the Atlantic 10 Conference and Ticketmaster.
“There’s a lot more options if we sell through our allotment, which we hope to do,” Freeman said.
For the women, the first three rounds will be played at Hagan Arena on St. Joseph’s campus in Philadelphia, Penn. The women’s championship game will be held at the Barclays Center.
Freeman said he’s worked with the A-10 to make sure fans interested in traveling to Philadelphia for the women’s tournament are accommodated.
Of the 16 teams in the conference, only the top 12 make the tournament. The top four regular- season teams receive a first-round bye. The first round matches up the No. 8 seed versus No. 9 seed, No. 5 and No. 12, No. 7and No. 10, and No. 6 and No. 11.
The No. 1 seed plays the winner of the No. 8- No. 9 matchup, the second seed plays the No. 5-No. 12 winner, the third seed faces 7-10 winner; and the fourth seed plays the 6-11 winner. The winner of the entire tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs will face a very different tournament environment than ever before. Last year in the Horizon League tournament, the Bulldogs played in the 5,000-seat Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Ind.
The Barclays Center seats 17,732 spectators and resides in the largest city in the United States.
Stevens said experience will help the team handle the big stage.
“Some of these guys have played in Final Fours, which is the biggest stage,” Stevens said.
Despite this and demand for tickets, Freeman said fans still interested in purchasing tickets should contact the Butler ticket office.
“We still have some available, and we’re going to do what we can to find additional tickets to help people that are looking to sit in or around other Butler people,” Freeman said.
Lindsay Martin, sports marketing and promotions manager, said Dawg Pound is also willing to assist students who are interested in going to the A-10 tournament.
“It would likely not be tied into the points program because there would be so few students that would be looking to take advantage of that opportunity,” Martin said.
Martin said only one student has asked her about A-10 tournament tickets.
Martin likens the low numbers to traditionally low numbers during events over school breaks.
The deadline for purchasing tickets is today, but Freeman urged fans to still contact the ticket office if they are interested.
“Technically, our deadline is on Wednesday,” Freeman said. “But at the same time, if somebody calls us late next week, we are going to try to find additional tickets for them.
“If we sell more than 150, we are going to try to help those folks. For those people that are interested, it’s best to act now to try and get your hands on something Butler has.”
Of the tickets purchased so far, Freeman said most have been bought by season ticket holders and donors from the Indianapolis area, as well as people from the New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia alumni chapters.
For those who cannot make the trip to Brooklyn, the semifinals will be televised on CBS Sports Network, and the championship game will be nationally televised on CBS.