College basketball is dying. Yes, I believe it is getting that bad across the country. Have you seen these early season tournaments? No one is there. The stadiums are so quiet, you can hear the refs talking with one another. Add in bizarre start times (10 AM eastern on a Friday!) and it’s no wonder most casual sports fans have no idea college basketball is even underway.
ESPN has tried to pump up the start of college basketball season but it just isn’t getting any major traction. The gimmicky “24 hours of college hoops” features mostly bland match ups with crappy mid major teams that will be lucky to play in any post season tournament. Then you add in the carrier games which are a recipe for bad basketball, if they are even played at all. And finally, you have the “other” college sport, football, wrapping up its season with some of the most meaningful weeks of games yet. Talk about an uphill climb.
If I were the college basketball czar, I’d know my limits. You aren’t going to compete with football so why even try? You move the start of the season back to the week after Thanksgiving. Start off with some of the juicy match ups we saw during the first couple days this year but play them on campus. The stale, cold, neutral sites don’t do a thing to get anyone in the mood for college basketball. To them the game is ugly enough already, as 54-51 games seem to becoming the norm regardless of conference. Let them see the passion we all love from college sports. Require the blue bloods of the sport to face each other. You can take a random guy off the street in an city across the country and when you say “Kentucky-Indiana” they get it. “Gardner Webb-Indiana” just doesn’t have the same ring now does it?
We are at a real turning point for one of my favorite sports. Sitting here and doing nothing will isolate the sport to a one month event for most fans. Unlike the NHL, you can’t win with just the crazies among us. You need the average ESPN viewer. Make it fan friendly and limit the quantity so they’ll keep coming back for more.
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