em>Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.
During these trying summer months away from the hardwood, a favorite pastime of college basketball fans is putting together the jigsaw puzzle that is the schedule for the season ahead. We still don’t have all the pieces in hand here in mid-August, but over the past few weeks we have heard announcements regarding in-season tournaments, multi-conference challenges, and select non-conference match-ups. The next shoe to drop in the schedule release process came Wednesday, when ESPN unveiled its 2013-14 College Gameday schedule. This new delivery of hoops action to come is a mouth-watering series of match-ups with a pretty comprehensive geographic blueprint (games in seven different conferences are included, plus a Gonzaga vs. Memphis non-conference tilt), and in all likelihood, even more complete coverage of the top of the preseason polls. There is a distinct possibility that every single team in this season’s preseason Top 10 will make an appearance on Gameday. Excited for Saturday nights in 2014 yet? It’ll be hard for that slate to disappoint, but if you will allow for a little nit-picking, we have a few good ideas on how to make Gameday – already a great thing – even greater.
With the original and (still) most popular version of College Gameday coming to you from college football’s most famed venues each fall Saturday, there are a few things we wish the hoops variety would steal from their gridiron counterparts. For one, what’s the rush with scheduling? My Wednesday afternoon may have been a little less exciting yesterday, but why not wait until a couple weeks out (like the football guys do) to set the games? That way we avoid providing disappointing teams a national stage (for example, Southern Illinois entered its January 2008 Gameday spot against Creighton with a losing record), and also potentially allow fans to enjoy games featuring surprise teams that may not have been on the preseason radar. Plus, if nothing better materializes, these brilliant original match-ups can stand. Michigan will still be visiting Sparty on January 25, Duke and UNC will still be facing off at Cameron on March 8, and life cannot be any worse!