Brownell supports NCAA Tournament change for First Four winners


by - Senior Writer -
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Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers looked like a tired team in the second half of their second round NCAA Tournament game against West Virginia this past March, and with good reason.
The Tigers defeated UAB 70-52 in one of the four inaugural First Four games in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday and less than 40 hours later the Tigers had to fly to Tampa to take on the Mountaineers.

Clemson lost to West Virginia, 84-76, in a game that started at noon on Thursday, and Brownell told ESPN’s Andy Katz this week that he was in favor of the decision by NCAA selection committee's to tweak the First Four format.
The committee has informed CBS/Turner, who owns the rights to the games, to ensure the future winners of the games in Dayton don't get slotted into the first TV game time on Thursday, the first day of the tournament.

"If we could have played a night session game it would have been much better,'' Brownell told Katz at the AAU Nationals in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this week. “We got in at 5 a.m. after leaving Dayton. We played two games in the tournament before many teams had played one. It made it very hard.''

Brownell coached at Wright St., in Dayton, before taking the job at Clemson and told Katz he had no problem with the First Four format or the games being played in Dayton.

"But we needed more time to catch up on our sleep and get prepared,'' Brownell said. "We needed a full day to get ourselves ready. We wore down a bit. I'm not taking anything away from West Virginia. They were a good team. But we got a little tired. It would have been nice to have a bit more rest. We were up by 7 a.m. after getting in at 5 a.m. the day before. There needs to be more equity for the teams participating. The night session would have been fine.''

The experience was cheapened a bit for Clemson, too, playing in the noon game when the arena is rarely full on the first Thursday of the tournament.


Katz said that the committee made a point of telling its television partners at a meeting this spring that the winners must play in later sessions. One other caveat for the First Four this year is the good chance that the winners won't have to travel as far, with Pittsburgh, Louisville, Columbus, Greensboro and Nashville among the eight second- and third-round sites.

"The First Four is done well and I'm fine with the high-majors playing some of the early games,'' Brownell said. “I'd rather not be in it, but if you win a game in the tournament like we did last year you feel like you have good momentum going into the next round. Our team was playing well. We just felt like we ran out of gas.''

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