ESPN has moved the start of college basketball's much anticipated rematch between the Syracuse Orange and Duke Blue Devils, Feb. 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. ET, a press release from the network announced on Tuesday. The change is to help ESPN shift its pre-game show broadcast of College GameDay from before the Pac-12 showdown between the Colorado Buffaloes against the visiting Arizona Wildcats (9 p.m. ET) to before the ACC match-up everyone in the nation wants to watch.
Despite the changes, College GameDay is still expected to broadcast from Boulder's Coors Events Center. As per usual, it will kickstart the day's action with its usual two-hour, morning show split between ESPNU and ESPN. However, instead of preceding the Colorado/Arizona game, which was the original plan, it will precede Syracuse-Duke Part II.
Why the shift? The obvious answer is because the Pac-12 game is not as interesting as it was when ESPN announced it was headed West in late January. The real answer is dollar bills, as the previous meeting between Syracuse and Duke reached an estimated 4.8 million viewers, the third most-viewed, regular-season men's basketball game on record.
The later time slot and pre-game hype should boost the rating a tad more.