Who's excited for college basketball's tip-off? Show of hands!
You've got Ohio State vs. Alcorn State, along with North Carolina vs. Florida International at 4 p.m. ET, then Albany at Syracuse (9 p.m. ET) and Murray State at Cal (11 p.m. ET). All four games feature ranked teams, which must mean there's some buzz about the season, right?
|Isiah Thomas doesn't like tonight's matchup against North Carolina any better than you do.
Oh well. I'm excited. As are the other hoopheads. But the average fan – people who'll fill out a bracket and not much else – probably didn't even know the season began today.
They don't realize/care that Isiah Thomas' coaching debut comes against the defending champs, which also happens to be the last team Isiah played in college. Or that Jim Boeheim could become the 12th coach to win his 800th career game tonight. Or that it's a chance to watch the game's best all-around player (Buckeye Evan Turner) and it's quickest (Cal's Jerome Randle) in one night.
They don't because college basketball's opening day is blasé. There's no national tie-in or big recognition about the season starting. Maybe it's because the season's too long, or maybe it's because the games will be blowouts.
The NCAA knows it and is – slowly – addressing the problem. Kind of.
"I don't know that there's a lot of momentum, but there's a consensus that we need to explore the best ways to try and unify around an opening day or opening weekend in a way that paints a clearer picture for college basketball," Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior vice president for basketball and business strategies told Seth Davis. "There's no easy answer, but it's definitely something we have to take on."
A boost would be nice. College hoops usually does the slow build toward March. Once the Super Bowl ends, it's time for the first Duke-North Carolina game, and more people starting watching. Still, it could start sooner.
Take a page from the NBA. The league plays a zillion games, but a couple marquee matchups on a random Tuesday was enough to draw a record 3.7 million viewers for TNT.
So shorten the season. When Thanksgiving ends, promote those big non-conference games and get the ball rolling. People can't watch the NFL every day, right?