For many people (read: #DisloyalIdiots) around the country, college basketball is a three-week sport in late March and into April. Ratings are relatively low across the board as college basketball is unable to capture the attention it rightfully deserves throughout the regular season.
Of course, you watch every Syracuse Orange basketball game because you’re a loyal idiot. That’s why you’re reading this post! But what can be done to make the college basketball non-conference schedule more watchable?
Having more ranked teams face one another is slightly effective. We see this through events like the Champion’s Classic and Maui Invitational. Intra-P5 match-ups like the ACC/Big 10 challenge help. One-off games against between top ten opponents certainly has appeal, but what most of these games lack is meaning. There’s limited history behind a Kansas versus Duke game. Michigan State and Kentucky isn’t personal like Syracuse versus Georgetown or Duke versus North Carolina.
These things all help, but what needs to be done is to make people feel in the non-conference. One of the most effective ways to do that is to play to nostalgia. Our friends over at BC Interruption have a proposition: Why not have a preseason old Big East style tournament in early December?
An old school Big East Tournament would undoubtedly be a major win for the sport of college basketball, but it also isn’t Syracuse’s or any other individual program’s duty to repair the sport.
The Big East Tournament in the halcyon days was unparalleled, unprecedented, and unlikely to be duplicated. Put simply, it was fucking grandiose. Nothing else will top it or have the same level of meaning, but this could be the next best thing.
BC Interruption suggests a three-day tournament in early December slated from Friday to Sunday with eight teams: Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence and Seton Hall. All teams sans Villanova were original founding members of the conference. Rutgers isn’t invited because, well, do I really need to explain why Rutgers shouldn’t be invited?
The tournament would of course take place at the world’s most famous arena and be televised by ESPN. There should be a clause somewhere that would allow the former troika of Jay Bilas, Bill Raftery, and Sean McDonough to all be on call together. And also, Syracuse should be the de facto No. 1 seed for obvious reasons.
This all sounds great in theory, but again, I don’t see this becoming a reality. The ACC has already made mention of going to 20 league games which will further reduce the chances of something like this happening.
Odds are slim but so were the chances of Dave Gavitt creating the Big East in the first place. Who pegged that other than Gavitt himself? And who thought Syracuse would bolt from that very conference and venture to the ACC? And while we’re at it, who the hell thought Syracuse would make the Final Four this year? It might be unlikely but crazier things have happened. And if it doesn’t, we can dream, right?