Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Still pining for a real college basketball opening day

November 13, 2015 Columns 1 Comment
glatczak

This could easily become a yearly plea.

We played this song last year, and we’ll do it again.

There has been slight improvement in recent years with at least a single starting date, but the truth remains: even many of the more avid (if not completely hard core) fans don’t know when the college basketball season starts, and will be surprised when they start seeing games showing up on TV and scores like “Shenandoah 58 Bucknell 85” running on the bottom of their screen.

Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis recently suggested Veteran’s Day as a yearly opening date for college hoops. We appreciate his continued thoughtfulness, and while not always agreeing with his ideas (including this one), it’s great to have someone like Davis who is always looking for ways to improve the sport, without losing track of what is already great about it.

We still would counter that Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to start the season, just as it was for many years before gradually slipping away in the early 1990s.

There is nothing magical about beginning the season in the middle of November. College football-even at the small-college levels-is still in season. The NFL is loading up for its stretch run. The NBA just started and hasn’t settled into its slog stage just yet. Shoot, even NASCAR is still going. There is just too much to filter through for the average fan.

By starting the day after Thanksgiving, the majority of college football season has passed. Even if there are a few conference championship games or conferences trying to stretch the gridiron season a little longer to minimize time between championships and bowl games, when it comes to college sports, if the calendar is near December, it’s time to start turning eyes indoors.

Thanksgiving weekend allows a natural opportunity for holiday events to open the season. The Great Alaska Shootout and Maui Classic (now Invitational) became holiday traditions on that weekend. There’s room for a few others too, as well as those four-team “classics” popular for many years.

If some really want to see the sport do a slow drip into the season with a single event, the preseason NIT in its original form in the 1980s and 1990s was perfect.

Let’s face it: for the average fan, tournaments are what make college basketball. It’s not star players-not anymore, anyway, in our one-and-done or two-and-out era. It’s not glitzy teams-even the pull of Duke or Kentucky only goes so far on a national basis.

A stand-alone tournament with 16 teams from conferences around the country was in the past and would still be about the nearest thing one could produce to an NCAA Tournament to start the season. There’s no reason why the preseason NIT can’t be the opening event again.

Include top teams as well as teams from 16 different conferences. End it the day after Thanksgiving in Madison Square Garden when everyone else is beginning. The first round games can look something like this:

Iona at Villanova
Wofford at Duke
Evansville at Indiana
Northern Arizona at Arizona
South Dakota State at Iowa State
UC Irvine at San Diego State
Georgia State at LSU
William & Mary at UAB

Do fans know every one of these teams? No, but if you choose them well, they’ll recognize most of them from recent March brackets of their own.

Are these slightly riskier games for the home teams than a guarantee game? Sure.

Do they generate more interest for fans? Absolutely. And if the top teams advance as they would be expected to, they still provide a natural lead into the start of the season for everyone else. If there’s an upset or two in there, then that’s just fine. That’s college basketball.

For the sake of the sport as a whole, the focus needs to be on quality games to start the year, not occasionally highlighting a single team or player. This year’s opening night TV lineup includes Siena at Duke and McNeese State at LSU.

Both games will showcase the sport-briefly. Let’s be real-unless one is a fan of those four teams, there is about a 3% chance that they’re going to watch those games from start-to-finish.

Of course, an event like this may hurt some of the in-season exempted tournaments. So be it. There are more than enough of them already. The sport won’t be hurt one bit if it loses a few of these newer events that have drawn puny crowds in warm weather locations.

As for not being enough time to play an entire schedule; nonsense. It may require a few more two-day weekend tourneys. Again, nothing wrong with that. Outside of conference play, this sport is at its best in tournament form.

If the sport is really serious about growth, this is something it needs to take on. A few schools or a few third-party organizers may have to make a few sacrifices. That’s OK. There is not just potential for college basketball to do better with its opening-there is a proven blueprint.

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Paul Borden says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. This is far too early for bkb season to start.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Your Phil of Hoops

Gbinije’s long journey may still have the ending many expected at one time

May 31, 2016 by

author_kasiecki

Michael Gbinije seemingly fulfilled the potential many thought he had, though he traveled a circuitous route to get there. Will it end up in the NBA Draft, or will he have to fight harder to make a roster?

The wait is over for Stony Brook

March 12, 2016 by

stonybrook

Stony Brook is finally going to the NCAA Tournament, and the story of tragic endings – and all that goes with it – is a thing of the past.

Saturday Notes – February 27, 2016

February 28, 2016 by

author_kasiecki

The last Saturday of exclusively regular season play seemed to follow the script of many others. We look at notes from many of the day’s games of consequence.

Hoopville Archives

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

hoopguy-cyan

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

hoopguy-yellow

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

hoopguy-cyan

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

hoopguy-cyan

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

hoopguy-cyan

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.