Are the college basketball powers that be listening to us?
Is it possible that (gasp!) us writers are making an impact?
Last December, we started to hear rumblings that the NCAA could expand to 96 teams. We fought against, we argued our case, and while the NCAA Tournament did expand, it only add three more teams. Bullet dodged. The came Expansionocalypse, and again we scratched and we clawed and when the dust finally settled, it was the WAC and the MWC that disappeared, not the Big XII.
The latest point that seemingly everyone was pushing for was a better opening night for college hoops. Sure, we had ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon, but the number of people willing to watch thoroughly mediocre college hoops at 5am is not very big. Every other sport has a spectacle for their opening night. College basketball needed something. That was the consensus.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Champions Classic.
ESPN has reached an agreement with four of the premiere college basketball programs in the country — Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Kansas — to air a double header featuring this four school each of the next three years. The games will be played in three different cities — New York, Atlanta, and then Chicago — and will feature a round-robin format. On Nov. 15th, 2011, Duke will play Michigan State and Kentucky will play Kansas at Madison Square Garden. On Nov. 12th, 2012, Michigan State gets Kansas and Duke and Kentucky square off in the Georgia Dome. And on Nov. 13th, 2013, Michigan State will play Kentucky and Duke will take on Kansas in the United Center.
Now, this won’t exactly happen on opening night. The first rounds of some of the early season tournaments will happen before these games are played.
But these games create a buzz beyond just the college hoops diehards. The average Joe Sports Fan isn’t going to care too much about a game between San Diego State and Gonzaga in early November. They should, however, be more excited for two games pitting four of college basketball’s blue blood programs up against one another. Most seasons, all four of these teams are going to be somewhere in the top ten or 15 teams in the country.
It won’t just be good television either.
All four of these programs travel well. All four have fans around the country. None of them should have a problem selling their allotment of tickets, meaning that the arenas these games are played in should be, for all intents and purposes, filled. How often does that happen early in the season.
I think this is a great idea. I’m all for it.
You should be too.
Because if you can’t get up for this kind of basketball in November, then you probably should not consider yourself a college basketball fan.