College Hotline: College basketball: Want to make the regular season more relevant? Move it
Disparage the Bowl Championship Series all you want. It helped create what is arguably the best regular season in sports.
College basketball, on the other hand, has a forgettable regular season and an incredible postseason.
As the satirical news website The Onion noted in a headline Monday, one day after the brackets were unveiled: “Nation Gears Up For Start Of College Basketball Season.”
Shaheen, who was dubbed the “tourney czar” during his 12 years in charge of March Madness, believes more high-profile non-conference games are needed to boost early-season interest and draw casual fans to the sport.
“There are approximately 5,400 games in the season and only 100 or 110 could be considered marquee non-conference matchups,’’ he said. “The notion that only two percent of all the games fit that description is nuts.’’
His suggestion: Reward teams that seek out marquee games, perhaps by reserving a handful of the tournament’s precious at-large berths to the teams with the toughest non-conference schedules.
The basketball season used to start when college football ended: Thanksgiving weekend. Now basketball tips off in early November and football ends in early December — one quarter of the basketball season conflicts directly with football during its sizzling stretch run.
Add the NFL regular season and playoffs, and college basketball barely registers on the mainstream sports radar until February: By the time the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, most teams had played two-thirds of their regular-season games.
The best long-term solution is to move the start of basketball back three or four weeks to avoid the steamroller that is the college football regular season.