On Monday, January 24th, the Pacwest released an official press release announcing their plan to expand both the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Conference Tournament. 

The 2022 PacWest Men’s and Women’s Championships are scheduled to be played during the first week of March at Fresno Pacific University. 

All four men’s basketball quarterfinals will be played on Wednesday, March 2, followed by the four women’s basketball quarterfinals on Thursday. The men’s semifinals will be played in the day session on Friday with the women’s semifinals played in the evening.  The tournament champions will be crowned on Saturday afternoon, with the men’s title game first, followed by the women’s championship game.

Typically, the post-season tournament consists of the top six teams in the PacWest based on their winning percentage from conference games.

However, multiple PacWest games have been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. As a result, there is a possibility that some teams will be unable to finish their full 20-game schedule by the end of the season. To accommodate those teams, the PacWest is allowing eight teams into the Conference Championship.

The decision was made for both genders “in the interest of competitive equity and is only for this season,” as stated in the press release from the PacWest.  

Initially, Azusa Pacific Athletic Director Gary Pine, said there was talk about letting all eleven teams into the PacWest tournament just for this year. However, when they broke down the cost, it was way too expensive so they decided that eight teams would be practical. 

The conclusion to include eight teams was because the committee felt like teams who landed at the seventh or eighth spot might be short changed when there could potentially be a sixth seed with a better record but played fewer games. 

“In a year with so much angst and uncertainty, we decided to make this decision to take some of the pressure off teams trying to reschedule games within the last month of the regular season, ” Pine said.

As it is, the men’s team has 10 conference contests scheduled for the month of February with hopes that the majority of postponed games are behind them.

Pine points out that the men’s team will be playing even more games than some teams in the NBA on top of taking college classes. The team also had a 23-day-stretch without a single game played. 

Coach “Bond has done a marvellous job keeping the men focused, hopeful, helping them have great attitudes through the uncertain times,” Pine adds. 

The Men’s side has struggled to put together a healthy squad for a majority of their season, but are still hanging on with an 8-6 overall record, 5-2 conference record and are currently ranked third in the conference.

The women’s team currently sits at 13-1 with a perfect 9-0 record in conference. The team coached by T.J. Hardeman and led by two-time PacWest Defender of the Week, Alex Lowden and team’s scoring leader, Kayla Shaw, are also ranked sixth in the nation.

Fortunately, the decision to expand the PacWest Conference tournament to eight teams will most likely not affect either team as both are looking at a high seed going into the second half of their regular season.

Pine says, “It’s been so thrilling to watch both teams succeed in light of the challenges this year, I’m really proud of them and how they’ve represented the school.” 

Both teams will host Academy of Art on Saturday before heading to Hawaii next week.