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NCAA will change tournament schedule if BYU advances to the Sweet 16

Nick Bromberg
·2-min read

BYU could force the NCAA to change its men's basketball tournament schedule.

The school has long had a rule that its teams don't play on Sundays. BYU is the No. 6 seed in the East region and the East region is set to have its Sweet 16 games played on Sunday, March 28. If the Cougars win their first two games of the tournament, the NCAA is going to accommodate the school.

If BYU wins, the East region will play its Sweet 16 games on Saturday, March 27, and have its Elite Eight regional final game on March 29. The Midwest region — currently scheduled for Saturday and Monday — would move to Sunday and Tuesday, March 30, in place of the East.

“That contingency will only be utilized in the event that BYU were to advance to the Sweet 16,” NCAA vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “If they do not, then there would be no change to dates for any teams for regionals.”

The date swap is made easier by the NCAA using the state of Indiana as a host state for the entire tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With regional dates at four sites across the country set long in advance for a tournament in a normal non-pandemic world, a date swap would be a much tougher proposition.

BYU forward Matt Haarms (3) looks on before the championship game of the West Coast Conference on March 9. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BYU forward Matt Haarms (3) looks on before the championship game of the West Coast Conference on March 9. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Origin of BYU rule

BYU is the only major school in the country that doesn’t have its teams play on Sunday. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-operated school has wanted the mission of its school to be aligned with the athletic department. And that means keeping practices and games away from Sundays.

The BYU baseball team didn’t advance to the College World Series in 1958 because it was scheduled to play on a Sunday. Five years later, the NCAA instituted a rule that would allow the governing body to accommodate BYU’s Sunday exemption.

In 1977, BYU won the WAC title in football to earn a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. But with the game played on a Christmas Day that fell on a Sunday, BYU didn’t play in the game.

The adherence to the rule typically means that BYU’s basketball teams are placed in tournament regions that don’t include games on Sundays. The Cougars’ opening game against the winner of the Michigan State-UCLA play-in game is on Saturday night and its potential second-round game is on Monday.

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