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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, January 9, 2018

January 9, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

College football’s Cartel Bowl was played Monday night, reminding us one more time that, for as frustrating as the NCAA Tournament selection committee can be, it still has a thousand times more legitimacy than a championship’s group of selectors with five representatives directly tied to five conferences and exactly zero committee members attached to the sport’s other five conferences. (Let’s stop pretending that Central Florida’s being kept from the playoff was because of its schedule and not because of out-and-out committee bias, now that we know the Knights had more regular season wins against the final Associated Press Top 25 before bowls than the team that ended up winning the season’s final game Monday.)

Almost as infuriating on Monday as a deserving contender being kept from a real shot at a national title solely because of collusion, though, is how so many networks covering college basketball continue to run away from a prime opportunity to do something different on that night. Networks have decided to treat a college football pseudo-championship game as if it’s the Super Bowl, impossible to compete against so it’s not even worth trying.

It’s an incredibly faulty assumption-the Cartel Bowl is not remotely close to the Super Bowl in interest level. And by doing so, they’re missing an easy chance to carve a niche out on the night.

There are plenty of college hoops junkies out there who would’ve been more than glad to bypass Alabama/Georgia on Monday for something hoops-anything. A couple years ago, CBS Sports Network showed a Patriot League game. Last year, FS1 had St. John’s/Georgetown.

This year, CBS Sports Network-which is run by the network most connected with the NCAA Tournament for three decades and typically does an excellent job with college hoops-showed…rodeo???

C’mon, TV programmers. We can do better than this. Even with the football game inexplicably hogging up six channels (wouldn’t it be covered sufficiently with just…four? Two?) there are plenty of networks out there that show college basketball and could’ve here.

Monday would’ve been a superb night for a good doubleheader (the Palestra, anyone?) or a few hidden gem rivalries, or perhaps a couple intriguing non-conference games. Someone, anyone-a little creativity. Please.

The ratings won’t match the football game ratings, but who cares? What is there to lose? Only the chance to differentiate a network and show some innovation.

Side Dishes:

  • Just three conferences played games Monday night: the MEAC, Patriot League and SWAC. Congratulations and salutes to all three for having the foresight to go against the tide; if only television networks would’ve realized their foresight. The MEAC now has four teams without a conference loss, but just two of them are 3-0 in conference. One is Morgan State, which got a hoop by Tiwian Kendley with just over six seconds left for an 89-88 win over Savannah State. The other is Bethune-Cookman, which won at Maryland-Eastern Shore 89-84 as Brandon Tabb hit seven three-pointers on the way to 28 points. Also: Coppin State earned its first win of the season in 18 tries, getting by Florida A&M 79-78 in two overtimes.
  • The Patriot League has an early tie for the top with three teams at 3-1. Colgate got there with a 70-62 win over Navy; Bucknell needed overtime to top Lafayette 80-75, and Boston University broke out to a 24-point halftime lead and cruised past Lehigh 92-81.
  • Jackson State is now 4-0 in the SWAC after a 65-61 win at Southern, after the Tigers rallied from 13 points down in the second half. Arkansas-Pine Bluff also is a surprising 3-0 after rolling 94-68 at Alabama State.
  • Connecticut forward Eric Cobb has been suspended from the team indefinitely. Cobb is a one-time South Carolina player who had a troubled time there and made it to the Huskies after a year at a Chipole JC in Florida. He was averaging 2.1 points and 3.2 rebounds this season for UConn, which already has had plenty of bad news in another disappointing campaign.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The night starts with Georgetown at St. John’s (6:30 p.m. Easter, FS1) and Penn State at Indiana (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
  • West Virginia has come a long way since its season-opening stinker against Texas A&M, ascending to No. 2 in the polls. Now the Mountaineers get to host Baylor (7 p.m., ESPN2). At the same time, a top-10 matchup between two teams that didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament last year-Texas Tech is at Oklahoma (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  • Reeling Texas A&M goes to Kentucky (7 p.m., ESPN). Also at the same time, struggling Alabama (only a win over A&M in its last four games) needs a win when it hosts South Carolina (7 p.m., SEC Network).
  • Much-improved Tulane goes to Memphis (7 p.m., ESPNews), where we’re happy to report Mark Adams will be on the color analysis.
  • Rhode Island has a tricky road game against Saint Louis (7 p.m., CBSSN), which has had some ugly home losses but also has beaten Virginia Tech and Murray State this year, and will test the Rams with its ability to get to the line.
  • Syracuse has lost two straight, but Jim Boeheim teams seem to frequently give Virginia a tough time and get a chance to do so again tonight.
  • Duquesne has been a nice story so far under Keith Dambrot and has been playing some fantastic defense, and the Dukes get another chance to make an impression when playing at VCU.
  • Butler faces a top-25 team for the fourth straight game when it travels to Creighton (8:30 p.m., FS1). Such can be life in the Big East.
  • The Mid-American Conference is off to a typical MAC start; through two games of conference play, only two teams are unbeaten and eight are 1-1. Another busy MAC Tuesday is led by West leader Western Michigan at Toledo, while East pacesetter Buffalo-coming off a dominating blowout of Ball State-travels to Akron.
  • Radford is a surprising early leader in the Big South. The Highlanders are on the road at Charleston Southern.
  • The later round of games is led by Purdue traveling to Michigan (9 p.m., ESPN), where it would surprise no one if the Wolverines knocked down the Big Ten-leading Boilermakers.
  • Seton Hall and its inside game against Marquette’s not-even-pretending-to-go-inside game has produced some fascinating and always close games the last two years. The two meet again in Milwaukee tonight (9 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Auburn gets a national TV appearance at home against Mississippi (9 p.m., ESPNU). In recent years, this is precisely when ascending SEC teams like the Tigers this year seem to start picking up puzzling losses. Also, Tennessee-coming off a win over Kentucky-now travels to face rival Vanderbilt (9 p.m., SEC Network).
  • Finally, the late evening has a pair of Mountain West games, including Boise State looking for a road win at Fresno State (11 p.m., ESPNU) plus San Diego State hosting San Jose State (11 p.m., CBSSN).

Have a great Tuesday.

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