MACON, Ga. — The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team will lose some sleep if its going to have a chance to make The Dance.
If second-seeded FGCU (22-10) beats third-seeded Stetson (15-15) in tonight’s 8 p.m. Atlantic Sun tournament semifinal at Mercer, the Eagles will play the championship game at noon Saturday. The winner of the A-Sun title game earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The possible quick turnaround is because the ESPN family purchased the broadcast rights, said A-Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart. ESPN2 will again carry the men’s title game.
The A-Sun used to set championship-game tip times, then bended to whatever network broadcast it. Last year, it tipped at 7 p.m.
Lately, the conference hasn’t set title game times until after a discussion with the televising network. ESPN made only the noon time slot available for the title game. Gumbart said the A-Sun doesn’t divulge the amount of rights purchases. He said the national exposure is worth more than the money.
“We’ve agreed that the value is to the extent that we’re not willing to give it up,” Gumbart said. “We try to be good partners and we’re building with them.”
Second-year FGCU coach Andy Enfield shrugged and said the Eagles — or whichever 8 p.m. winner makes the final — will just have to go with the flow. That means quick cram sessions for Stetson, although FGCU has played the Hatters twice.
“It’s certainly a concern,” Enfield said. “It’s less than ideal for whatever team plays in the late game and the championship. It’s one of those things where there’s not a whole lot you can do. You just have to go with it and do your best.
“Hopefully it will be us that will have to deal with it.”
Last year, then-sixth-seeded FGCU lost to defending champion Belmont in the final. The Eagles played three games in three days last year but with its higher seeding this season, FGCU played its quarterfinal Wednesday and was off Thursday.
To help soothe the quick Friday night-Saturday turnaround, the A-Sun moved its semifinals up a half-hour. The late semi usually tips at 8:30. Gumbart and company worked with Comcast Sports Southeast, which is carrying the semifinals, to make the move to 8.
The first men’s semifinal — top-seeded Mercer vs. No. 5 USC Upstate — is at 5:30 Friday, up from 6.