Binghamton University has become the fourth America East women’s basketball team to opt out of the remainder of the season due to positive COVID-19 test results within its program.
That has forced yet another change in the tournament format.
Under the seven-team format announced last week, regular-season league champion the University of Maine was going to receive a first-round bye and the remaining six teams were going to square off in the quarterfinals for the right to advance to the semifinals.
Now, with six teams, UMaine and second-place Stony Brook will earn first-round byes. Third-seeded UMass Lowell is set to entertain No. 6 New Jersey Institute of Technology in one quarterfinal and No. 4 Albany hosts No. 5 New Hampshire in the other.
The two quarterfinal games will be played on Feb. 28.
After the quarterfinals, America East will re-seed the teams. UMaine will host the lowest-seeded quarterfinal winner and Stony Brook will await the higher-seeded winner.
The semifinals will be held on March 7 and the championship game will be played on March 12 at the home of the highest remaining seed.
UMaine won the conference championship in 2018 and 2019, while last year’s league final was canceled because of the pandemic.
UMaine, 16-2 overall and 13-2 in America East, beat New Hampshire (5-14, 5-11 AE) 82-53 in Saturday’s mutual regular-season finale. Stony Brook (11-5, 9-3 AE) hosts Albany (6-8, 5-5 AE) for regular-season games on Monday and Tuesday.
UMass Lowell wound up 11-8 (10-6 AE) and New Jersey Institute of Technology is 4-13 (4-9 AE).
In addition to Binghamton, the others teams that opted out were Vermont, Hartford and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.