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Joe Ovies

A nation turns to college basketball for their fix

Posted February 6, 2013

A weary nation of sports fans looks for their next obsession after two days of debating whether or not Joe Flacco is "elite," griping over Ray Lewis' complicated legacy, Super Bowl power outages and Beyoncé. College basketball waits for them with open arms and brackets.

While the unofficial start of the season is actually next week when Duke hosts North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium, conference look-ins will begin once the fervor of National Signing Day calms down in the next 24 hours.

Fans will see Joe Lunardi on various ESPN platforms and Jerry Palm retweeted on a daily basis, each giving their updated seeding projections from now until Selection Sunday (March 17). This year appears more chaotic than others since schools seem to have an allergic reaction to being No. 1 in the polls. 

Casual fans have missed a mixed bag of action since November, which doesn't sit well with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. He thinks college basketball "is in shambles," but didn't elaborate much beyond the sport getting lost in the sports calendar. 

He's not alone in lamenting college basketball's place in the pecking order.

Some of it has to do with talent drain, but the real issue facing the NCAA is time. Folks can only consume so much product during the week. Fixing the issue would require radical changes, but nobody really wants to do it out of fear of screwing up the golden goose that is March Madness.

Unlike other sports, college basketball employs a soft launch strategy during the busiest months of football. Even if schools were to shift the start of the season to late December, it would run into the wall of noise created by the NFL playoffs and whatever they end up calling the BCS in a couple of years. They'll still find themselves taking a backseat until early February. And then what happens?Will March be replaced with "May-hem?" That's not going to fly.

There's also an inventory problem. Thirty or so games with minimal impact early in the season create scenarios where losses to Florida Gulf Coast seem like they never happened to a team in the top ten. Ultimately, the regular season boils down to NCAA Tournament positioning, which is a byproduct of 68 teams in the field.

So rather than a national product, college basketball is relegated to heavier regional coverage.

There's nothing wrong with that status, especially in traditionally strong basketball areas such as the Triangle. It's really easy to do four hours of radio and fill up digital column space on the day-to-day of North Carolina, Duke and NC State. 

But that's not good enough for ADs and presidents looking to squeeze as much money out of the sport as they can. That kind of thinking will eventually bring about a field of 128 teams, which nobody truly wants.

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  • StunGunn Feb 7, 2013

    I don't wait for the Super Bowl to watch and care about college basketball; to me the season starts with "Late Night With Roy". The Duke/Carolina game won't be as exciting as it has in years past, unfortunately, but that doesn't diminish my love for the greatest sport: college basketball, specifically ACC basketball. The emergence of State as a good basketball team has made Triangle hoops even more exciting.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 6, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Thinking back I can agree on this too. But, since they have 68 right now, I can live with this. Money rules.

  • Hammerhead Feb 6, 2013

    Other than some of the more interesting college basketball games, some March Madness and the Final Four, the Super Bowl is pretty much the end of my serious sports season. It becomes white noise until football starts back up in Sept. I get pretty stoked to work and play outside this time of year.

  • dukiedon45 Feb 6, 2013

    View quoted thread

    actually,I thought 64 was enough.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 6, 2013

    View quoted thread

    I too feel the same PanthersFan. Sports gave me my identity in high school. I love football and basketball more on the college level. I can appreciate your last few sentences too.

  • PanthersFan45 Feb 6, 2013

    I will watch college basketball from the get-go, that includes the early season tip-offs and the ACC-Big10 Challenge. I'm a big sports fan in general and pro football is tops with me. I grew up playing sports (mainly baseball & football). I've always had a strong connection with sports and its great entertainment. I will add I'm looking forward to NCAA bracket time again and seeing how I do in the annual offic pool. I have had the misfortunae of having Obama pick the same team to win it as me ...... I think that's put a hex on it.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 6, 2013

    The schedule is fine to begin basketball in November. December is too late. This format has worked well for a long time now. I truly hope that we stay at 68 teams for the NCAA's. 128 teams would be a total joke.

  • greg11 Feb 6, 2013

    I think i could have came up with something better to write about than that. So the unofficial season starts after State beats Duke and UNC? WOW.

  • Pack Girl Feb 6, 2013

    " unofficial start of the season is actually next week when Duke hosts North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium"...Excuse me??? So, the big ACC match ups prior to next week were just for casual spectators and non-fans? Who did you write this article to...football or basketball fans? Or non-sports fans at all? It's really a shame to see that you have revealed your true colors as a newby to the ACC where UNC and Duke are the only schools that matter. And you all wonder why everybody else hates these schools. You just clearly exposed the smug attitude that is so prevalent that none of you UNC & Duke fans will admit to.

  • hi_i_am_wade Feb 6, 2013

    College basketball isn't in shambles in the states of North Carolina, Kentucky, and Indiana.

    However, there is an easy fix to both college basketball and the NBA. It is the baseball solution: you either have to go to the NBA right away or wait 3 years. The NFL forces players to be a certain age, and it has made college football and the NFL a better product and thus more likely to be watched. If the NBA and the NBA players union actually decided to do some forward thinking, we could greatly improve both the NBA and college basketball.

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