It’s no secret that we’ve had our issues with the WWL over the last few years, but if you remove its Disneyfied cross-promotional garbage and the regrettably unwatchable Sportscenter, there’s still no better existing production value when it comes to the actual broadcast of games. And lots of them. A fair argument can be made that ESPN has done more for the popularity of college basketball since its inception than any other entity, media or otherwise. Most everyone we know grew up watching Big East or ACC games on ESPN in the 80s and 90s, and as we all know, prior to ESPN’s existence, the NCAA Tournament was largely shown on tape-delay.
What we’re getting at is that ESPN and college hoops have a long and prosperous history together, and it’s nice to see that continue in the modern era of sports specialization. With that said, we wanted to point out that ESPN’s decision released today to have an “Opening Day” extravaganza of college basketball is nothing short of brilliant. We’ve also often bemoaned the fact that, unlike nearly every other major American sport, college hoops really doesn’t have a “start” date. The season begins when teams start playing in random tournaments sometime in November, and most people are surprised to learn that college hoops has started when they see a Purdue-Florida Intl. score on a random Tuesday night along the bottom line scroll.
ESPN’s big day of hoops on Nov. 18 (which, interestingly, is a Tuesday and will have no competition with football) will at least make certain that the general sports nation is aware that college basketball is back and people should start taking notice. Some of the very best nonconference matchups occur in late November and early December while most folks are still paying attention to a handful of teams on the college gridiron, so from a marketing perpective, the initiation of a huge day of solid to good basketball games to “kick off” the season’s coverage is a winner. We also love how they’re making use of all the time zones to approximate a full 24 hours of coverage. The schedule is below.
The hoops bonanza scheduled for ESPN networks on Nov. 18 (all times ET).
• Midnight: UMass at Memphis (ESPN)
• 2 a.m.: Fresno St. at St. Mary’s (ESPN)
• 4 a.m.: Idaho St. at Hawaii (ESPN)
• 6 a.m.: College Hoops Tip-Off Special (ESPN)
• 10 a.m.: Penn at Drexel (ESPN)
• Noon: Liberty at UNC-Asheville (ESPN)
• 2 p.m.: Iowa at Kansas (women) (ESPN)
• 4 p.m.: Centenary at Baylor (ESPN)
• 6 p.m.: Richmond at Syracuse (ESPN)
• 7 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Purdue (ESPNU)
• 7:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Boston College (ESPN2)
• 8 p.m.: College GameDay-Chapel Hill (ESPN)
• 9 p.m.: Kentucky at North Carolina (ESPN)
• 9 p.m.: Florida Gulf Coast at Kansas (ESPNU)
• 9:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Oklahoma (ESPN2)
• 11:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Arizona (ESPN2)