College Hoops Are Here

By Chelsea Franklin

The floors are waxed and the benches aligned. Coaches’ suits are pressed and uniforms are crisp. The road to March has officially begun.

24 Hours

ESPN, the leader of NCAA basketball coverage, has condensed thirty teams into 24 hours of play to begin the season that everyone is looking forward to. There are prime-time match-ups and 6 a.m. time slots for the underdogs. There are thirty minute breaks, barely enough time for the adrenaline to decrease from a Michigan State/Kansas game. And after that thirty minute break? Well, that’s a Duke/Kentucky rivalry game, the Champion’s Classic, that will make Duke prove its point guards and Kentucky prove its team unity.

The Tip-Off Marathon is the ultimate way to start a season. And College Basketball might be the only sport that could entertain such an event. The short time frame (2 hours in a typical stint) and the numerous facilities available, allow the NCAA to capitalize on the anticipation of the season. And boy, do they capitalize.

Marketing. TV. And more Marketing.

November 13th was a great day for ESPN. But that day was just a culmination of things that had been put in place long before. Friday, ESPN was the host of the first ever college game played in Europe; a camouflage blur of two teams honoring the Armed Forces from an air base in Germany. The special uniforms for each team were army-like versions of the uniforms they wear back home, both designed and made by Nike. Though the intent was obvious — the respect of the forces and the motivation of the team in the first game — the result was… confusing. Numerous errors, mostly on behalf of the refs, proved the similarities in the uniforms were more of a nuisance than a benefit.

Following the Naval Base, the network will start the Champions Classic, and continue the spree of games televised on ESPN, ESPNU, and ESPN3. Specifically for ESPN3, some major landmarks are to be reached for the station. For the first time, 125 games will be aired here first, and later in the season, the platform will host 100 conference match-ups. Overall, the ESPN network will air 1,450 games of NCAA basketball, until March Madness hits and CBS and Turner take over. This not only allows for added sponsorship for the network, but advances in digital and social avenues as well. The winter is a wonderful time to be in Bristol.

North Carolina.

Sure. I’m biased. But it’s difficult to look at pre-season rankings and NOT see NC in more places than one. And when those places are less than 50 miles from each other, it’s a bit astonishing. Thousands of students flock to the “neutral” site of Jacksonville, FL, to get a chance to view their school’s biggest rival. But could you imagine if that school’s site was in Atlanta? Or Gainesville, GA? What would happen then? The magnitude of these rivalries go back to the early 1900s. And each year, unlike some teams in SEC football, these programs find ways to replace their stars and continue to improve. There are no off-years, times of rebuilding or freshman who can’t deliver. It is the mecca of college sports and it is one small triangle.

It’s true basketball fans, the time has come. And we couldn’t be more ready.

 

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