College Gameday Lineup Sizzles, But Can Show Stand To Improve?

Posted by BHayes on August 15th, 2013

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.

The College Gameday Crew Has A Winter Of Titanic College Hoops Matchups Ahead Of Them, But No Return Trip To Hinkle Fieldhouse Means We Are Probably Safe To Avoid The Crew's Hickory High Jerseys This Season

The College Gameday Crew Has A Winter Of Titanic College Hoops Matchups Ahead Of Them, But No Return Trip To Hinkle Fieldhouse Means We Are Probably Safe To Avoid Davis, Rose, Phelps And Bilas In Their “Memorable” Hickory High Jerseys 

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!

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Ranking the 2012 ESPN “College Gameday” Match-ups

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 9th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

For college hoops fans, winter Saturdays are an overwhelming blur. With so many games spaced out throughout various networks, sitting down and selecting an optimal day-long viewing experience can be somewhat bewildering. When in doubt, the consensus gravitates towards ESPN, where the “College Gameday” crew doles out a constant flow of college hoops action, providing insightful commentary along the way. Starting at 10 AM ET with a studio show staged at that week’s featured game site, a raucous crowd howling in the backdrop, the panel lays out the day’s action, capped with a late-show pick ‘em segment which invariably has the effect of inciting the avid supporters on hand. Then it’s a day’s long succession of enticing fixtures, spanning different leagues, time zones and intrigue levels. The crew — Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and for the first time this year Jalen Rose, plus whoever else graces the courtside stage in any given week —  puts a bow on the day’s action with an hour-long recap show, which leads into that week’s marquee matchup. There are few things better than a “Gameday” Saturday: a highly entertaining and energetic crew of college hoops enthusiasts sandwiching a whirlwind of hoop with enlightening breakdowns and analysis about the day’s happenings.

Loved or Hated, Everyone Watches Gameday

In this early-August college hoops lull where the happenings on the gridiron seem to take precedent at most every power conference university, we long dearly for those delightful, couch-side Saturdays. Fortunately, ESPN provided a sneak peak of just how magnificent those Saturdays might be. The network released its “Gameday” schedule Wednesday, and the lineup – at least as far as I can tell from a rather distant August viewpoint – is the best I’ve seen in quite a long time. Maybe ever. The bad news is that January 19, the first Saturday of viewing, seems a pretty long ways away. Not to worry. Before you know it, Midnight Madness will arrive, November and December will slide by and the eight-week selection of action-packed Saturdays will commence. To pique your interest, I’ve put together a ranked list of the eight featured games. There’s no hard and fast criteria here; take this as a simple preferential ordering of which match-ups I feel carry the most appeal. Longstanding rivalries, interesting venues and conference/national title implications will all factor into this 100%-for-fun exercise. On paper, it’s hard to find fault with the selected games. But between now and January, a bad start or two could dampen the hype factor around some of these games. All we can hope is that the scheduled contests maintain their outwardly riveting stature throughout the winter months.

Note: All game times ET.

1. March 9: Syracuse at Georgetown (12 PM), Duke at North Carolina (9 PM)

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Morning Five: 08.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 26th, 2010

  1. Yes, USC is expensive (almost $50k per year).  Ex-Dookie, ex-Wildcat Taylor King found that out the hard way when he realized just how much his family would need to pay out-of-pocket to transfer to Southern Cal for one more year of eligibility in 2011-12.   Instead, he’ll play at NAIA Concordia in nearby Irvine, perhaps a much nicer locale but not exactly on the standard tour of most NBA scouts.  We wish him well, nevertheless.
  2. “All indications are that the [BYU] Cougars will remain in the MWC,” according to the Denver Post.  There has been no formal word yet, and BYU officially has until next week (Sept. 1) to decide whether it’s coming or going in the league, but with the WAC blowing up after the Cougs’ initial inquiry, the decision comes down ultimately to whether the LDS elders think that BYU football can sustain itself as an independent.  It would be a bold move, but not one without some credibility; still, it says here that BYU (for now) sticks with the Mountain West.
  3. Matt Snyder has an interesting piece at Fanhouse ripping the John Beilein hire at Michigan after a dismal performance in Belgium (they play basketball there?) that he thinks portends a miserable hoops season in Ann Arbor.  He’s probably right about the dismal upcoming season, but we’re not ready to give up on Beilein as a head coach.  His WVU teams in the later years in Morgantown played a style of basketball that was very difficult to prepare for, but it took him several years to develop such hidden jewels as Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey in order to get to that point.  Given that Michigan had gone over a decade (!!!) between NCAA Tournaments prior to Beilein’s 2009 second round appearance, we’re willing to let him have more time to build his program.  As for UM fans — we’re not as sure.
  4. Morehead State was placed on a two-year probation by the NCAA yesterday, but the sanctions will affect scholarships and not impact postseason play for the school.  This is a good thing, as the Eagles return one of the better mid-major players in America in senior Kenneth Faried, a 6’8 forward who won the Ohio Valley Conference POY and DPOY awards last year while dropping 17/13 per night en route to 25 double-doubles.  If Murray State drops the ball in the OVC, Morehead will likely be there in 2010-11 to pick up the slack, and we hate to see when great players are punished for something they had no involvement in.
  5. Yes, even 7 am isn’t too early for the west coasters to roll out of bed on Saturday mornings to check in with College Gameday this coming season.  As our very own Zach Hayes broke down the 2010-11 Gameday slate, it’s good to know that the weekly festivities will begin an hour earlier on ESPNU at 10 am ET before heading over to the big daddy channel (ESPN) at 11 am.  Then, as ZH said, fourteen straight hours of the manna known as winter hoops.  Prepare yourselves: it’s coming sooner than you think.
http://www.msueagles.com/news/2010/8/25/GEN_0825100228.aspx
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2010 ESPN College Gameday Sites Announced

Posted by zhayes9 on August 18th, 2009

Saturday mornings in the winter have become a schedule of habit for yours truly- stumble out of bed, put the coffee in the pot and settle down on the couch for another edition of College Gameday: Hoops Edition. The likely candidates will return for another run in 2010 including Rece Davis as the host and Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps, Bob Knight and Jay Bilas (assuming Erin Andrews will once again be involved) providing analysis and heated bracket discussion. While I’d love to see Hubert tied up behind the Bristol studios with his mouth taped shut and replaced by someone smart like Doug Gottlieb or Steve Lavin (or anyone who doesn’t think the eye test is the best way to determine NCAA Tournament teams), the Gameday crew has grown on me. Bilas has always been the most informative and intelligent analyst on the network covering college basketball, and once you can look past how big of a buzzkill Bob Knight is, he provides tremendous insight. Much like Chris Fowler on the football counterpart, Davis does a formidable job moderating and challenging his partners.

Here’s the schedule for this season:

January 16th: Storrs, CT- Notre Dame at Connecticut (women’s)
January 23rd: Clemson, SC – Duke at Clemson
January 30th: Manhattan, KS – Kansas at Kansas State (7 p.m.)
February 6th: Champaign, IL – Michigan State at Illinois
February 13th: Lexington, KY- Tennessee at Kentucky
February 20th: Seattle, WA – UCLA at Washington
February 27th: Syracuse, NY- Villanova at Syracuse
March 6th: Durham, NC – North Carolina at Duke

The women’s game doesn’t surprise me; in fact, I viewed it as inevitable for Gameday to make a trip to Storrs this season to commemorate the perfect season for UConn. And why not? I’ve never watched a full women’s college game in my life, and don’t plan on tuning in to that particular edition because Geno Auriemma will be prominently involved, but it’s well deserved. As for the other men’s contests, I think ESPN did a nice job considering they can only work with Saturday games and make the schedule in August rather than on a weekly basis, i.e., college football. You have potential top-ten teams in Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Villanova entering raucous environments in Clemson, Manhattan, Champaign and Syracuse, respectively. Expect some memorable RTC moments on Saturday nights this season.

Some quick thoughts:

Best Game- UNC-Duke always gets us tingly inside, but the best game takes place in SEC country this season- Tennessee-Kentucky. The Big Blue will be rocking in appreciation of their highly-anticipated top-five team under new coach John Calipari and will surely bring the heat for their most hated sweaty headman, Bruce Pearl. These two bitter rivals will be the top two teams in the SEC this season. Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism battling down low with DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson will be tremendous to watch.

Likely Stinker- Most would vote for a possible 57-56 final in Champaign as the likely stinker, but I’ll go with Villanova-Syracuse. Some believe the Orange could surprise with the addition of Wesley Johnson, but Villanova is loaded and took care of Syracuse late last season at the Dome even with Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris around. This one has the potential for blowout city rather than upset city.

Who Knows Game- Kansas State isn’t likely anything more than a bubble team this season, yet Gameday is making the trip to Manhattan to see preseason #1 Kansas battle the Wildcats in what should be an insane environment. You’d think the Jayhawks’ immense talent would be able to wipe the floor with Kansas State, but don’t underestimate Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen and stud frosh Wally Judge. Feels like this could either be an 18-2 KU run to start the game or the most memorable upset of the conference season.

Missing Powers- A little bit surprised to see Texas without an appearance on Gameday. I love their makeup this year under Rick Barnes and coupled with a strong Big 12 + Austin providing a worthy destination = surprised at their absence. Purdue was snubbed. Butler was also a candidate to get some national TV love.

Cult of Personalities- As I mentioned before, the battle between Bruce Pearl and John Calipari, especially coming off the Josh Selby rumors/saga, will be eaten up by ESPN. It’s not exactly Rick Pitino-Calipari, but the storylines will develop.

Plus, we get more halfcourt shots. And those are always fun.

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Getting Off Dickie V’s Back (For Now)

Posted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured columnist for RTC.  His columns will appear on Tuesdays throughout the season.

This past Saturday I was watching the North Carolina vs Miami (FL) matchup and simultaneously checking out nvr1983’s live press-row blog of the event.  Just before the second half started, ESPN’s Dick Vitale started talking about his favorite subject, the Duke Blue Devils.  No surprise there, right?  Well, this time he prefaced it by saying, “I know people don’t like it when I talk about Duke, but I’m gonna talk about them!” or something close to that (I don’t have video of this, but if you do, put a link in the comments section and I’ll add it to the post and credit you). 

daylife.com and Getty Images)
Why is that man smiling? Forget it. We know why. (photo credit: daylife.com and Getty Images)

This tells us that it’s obvious that Vitale is very much aware and maybe even a little sensitive about how the college basketball-loving public perceives him as favoring the Blue Devils.  Heck, I admit, in the past I’ve been quick to jump on the guy with both feet about this.  I’ve rolled my eyes and shaken my head like so many others when he, in a non-Duke basketball game, starts prattling on about Duke like a lovesick 6th-grade girl who has a crush on a boy and wants to talk about it endlessly.

So Vitale said a few things about Duke and that was that.  Big deal.  Big surprise.  But right as the second half began, I began thinking — this wasn’t his usual Thom Brennaman-Tim Tebow hyperbole about the Dukies.  It was — gasp! — actually relevant.  You see, it was the “I know people don’t like it” part that caught my attention, specifically.  That borders on an apology, or at least an acknowledgment of his Blue Devil affinity.  Now, like a lot of college basketball fans, I think, I don’t have a problem with the Duke program (I’m still deciding whether Coach K’s satellite radio show is fair or not) as much as I have a problem with Vitale (and certainly Mike Patrick) bringing it up when it has no relevance to what’s going on in front of him.  That’s the only time it ticks me off.

You know what it reminds me of?  When you’re talking to some girl and she does that “boyfriend” thing, meaning she inserts a random reference of the fact that she has a boyfriend into a conversation the FIRST chance she gets because 1) she really has one, or 2) she’s not interested and this is her way of telling you.  I think you know the conversation I’m talking about.  Who among us hasn’t been here:

Me:  I had a flat tire today.
Girl:  You know what?  My boyfriend’s car has tires.

Or:

Me:  That’s a heavy oxygen tank, there.
Girl:  My boyfriend breathes oxygen!

Or maybe:

Me:  Hi, I…
Girl:  Boyfriend.

I recall that great bit on Seinfeld where George was out on a date with a woman who does that little trick by telling George he has a nice watch, then says, “My boyfriend loves watches, he’s a real watch freak.”  When discussing it with Jerry, Jerry notes, “They just SLIP it right in there, like it’s all part of the conversation.”  Well, I think that’s kind of what Vitale does.  And I think it’s combined with a little bit of that schoolgirl thing I mentioned above.  Or perhaps in Mr. Vitale there’s a little bit of that guy who was affected so much by Star Wars as a kid that he’s never been the same.  You know the guy, the one who makes a Star Wars reference any time he can; the guy who filters his whole existence through that movie, seemingly asking himself at every moment of the day, “What does this have to do with Star Wars?  What possible link can I make between that movie and the things that happen in my life on a moment-to-moment basis?”  I think all of these are at the root of Vitale’s Duke-o-philia.

BUT, my dear readers, I caught myself on this occasion, before I started texting my friends and ripping Vitale.  There’s a difference, this year.  This season, Duke is relevant.  Because Duke is good.  True, Duke is usually good.  But this season is different. 

I see a different sort of energy around this particular Duke squad that I haven’t seen in recent years.  This is a team that has bought into the fact — one that coaches across the country at all levels try SO HARD to get into the collective consciousnesses of their teams — that defense creates offense, that the toughness of your defense will determine your success.  In addition to being 4th in the nation in scoring, themselves, Duke keeps their opponents at 39.6% shooting per game, and they are second in the nation in a statistic I consider very important and telling, that of Turnovers Forced Per Game (17.0!!).  So maybe Vitale, in his Duke love, is to be given a little leeway this year?

I admit, that’s going to be tough.  How many of you recall this incident from last year, where Vitale was calling a Duke game and this was shown:

misterirrelevant.com
The Vitale Grandkids (Photo credit: misterirrelevant.com)

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10.22.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2007

The hits just keep on comin’…

  • Tough week at Pepperdine.  First, their top returning player Kingsley Costain was dismissed from the school; now they don’t have anywhere to practice due to the insane fires in Malibu.
  • Now that Maryland has instituted a new alcohol awareness program, what’s the over/under on some Terp like James Gist getting a DWI?  Or maybe it’ll be our favorite tool, Gus Gilchrist?  He committed to the Terps over the weekend and will play next season.
  • Maybe Purdue’s Gordon Watt should transfer to Maryland now – he was kicked out of Purdue for a DWI last week.
  • In a nice gesture, the ACC renamed its Scholar-Athlete award in honor of Skip Prosser.
  • BYU extended head coach Dave Rose‘s contract through 2011.
  • Bob Knight really hates cell phones.
  • Beginning next year, the Preseason NIT will guarantee each participant four games at on-campus sites, even for those teams that lose in the first two rounds.
  • We hadn’t seen this yet, but ESPN announced its College Gameday sites a week or two ago.  We cannot wait until Jan. 26 – Creighton at S. Illinois.
  • Thankfully, Myles Brand says there will be no expansion of the NCAA Tournament anytime soon.
  • Raymond Felton didn’t help Roy after all – Iman Shumpert chose Georgia Tech over UNC and Marquette.
  • Andy Katz has a really interesting article about Kevin Love asking the Wizard of Westwood (who turned 97 Sunday) for advice.  We like this kid already.
  • Thad Matta is hobbling around after back surgery this summer.
  • More Preseason Chatter –
    • ACC Media Days – the Research Triangle schools came in 1 (UNC), 2 (Duke), 3 (NC State) in the preseason conference poll.
    • Seth Davis breaks down Indiana‘s prospects.
    • Katz explains why Calipari opted to stay in Memphis over taking the NC State job two years ago.
    • DeCourcy gives USC some love for tough scheduling (even though they’re going to lose all those games), while he rates crosstown rival UCLA #1 in his poll.
    • STF gets us up to speed on what the mid-major conferences are bringing to the table this year.
    • SEC Hoops:TGTBTD chooses Jamont Gordon over Chris Lofton for SEC POY.   Interesting…
    • Final thought – believe it or not, the Colorado Lady Buffaloes actually have a Brittany Spears and a Whitney Houston on their squad this season.   Coke dealers in Boulder are already calculating their profits.
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