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The Daily Tar Heel

ACC Claims New Formula Moved Game

Unfortunately for UNC students eager to attend this season's North Carolina-Duke regular season men's basketball game, Spring Break isn't one of them. The contest will be played March 9 -- two days after the break starts.

As the associate commissioner and director of men's basketball operations for the ACC, Barakat is responsible for making sure each conference team plays 18 games before the NCAA tournament commences. "We don't look at the Spring Break," he said. "What we do is we avoid the exams in December."

The ACC bases its regular season schedule, which is always released Aug. 15, on the NCAA tournament schedule. Only Barakat and other ACC officials, using a computer-generated process, schedule the conference games. Television contracts are a big part of the decision-making process, but tradition counts, too. "The Duke-Carolina series has been the same for the last 21 years that I've been here," he said.

The timing of the final game could force students to choose between delaying their Spring Breaks or skipping the highly anticipated game.

So what has changed? UNC has maintained nearly the same Spring Break for at least the past two years, and the ACC is simply operating off the schedules handed to it by the NCAA.

The difference is for this and following seasons, the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee opted to implement a new formula for picking tournament dates. The old formula required each conference to complete its regular season and conference tournaments 10 weekends after Jan. 2. "There were years when that was pretty tough for conferences, and some of them had to play conference games during December," said NCAA consultant Bill Hancock. "(Now) the championship game is the Monday after the first Sunday in April starting in '03. That way all anybody has to remember is the first Monday."

The new formula grants conferences more time to fit in their regular seasons and tournaments. But the frustrating part for the officials is nothing could have been done to prevent the overlap. UNC publishes its schedule as many as two years in advance, using input from outside departments before making a decision.

But changing the academic calendar isn't likely. "We normally don't change our calendar for athletic events," said David Lanier, co-chairman of the Academic Calendar Committee.

The conflict could affect on-campus residents who wanted to attend the game. The UNC Department of Housing and Residential Education will address the concern at its central staff meeting today.

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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