Yeah, we’re way behind on this story and everything else, but we finally extracted ourselves from under a wet blanket of indentured misery-tude and we can once again focus on what’s really important… like whether Jay Bilas will finally turn around and punch The Redundancy known as Digger Phelps in the schnozz… or whether Hubert Davis’ high-pitched guffaw will cause rabid bats nesting in the arena rafters to attack the GameDay crew… or whether Rece Davis’ hair will ever move…
Still, in the three years that ESPN has been doing College Gameday, the on-air chemistry has steadily improved to the point where it has become must-watch tv for knowledgeable hoops fans throughout its Jan/Feb/March run. We still can’t figure out why ESPN locks itself into games before the season even begins (unlike its CFB counterpart, whose venue changes on a week-to-week basis), but the majority of the time they pick a nationally relevant game (14 of the 31 games have involved two ranked teams, but last year involved a notable exception: last year’s S. Illinois – Creighton 48-44 stinker on Jan. 26 is one of a handful of games involving two unranked teams in the four-year history of GameDay), and some of the humorous bits are LOL-worthy (see Tebow clip below).
Irrespective of all that jazz, ESPN released its schedule of 2009 sites recently, and it’s apparent that ESPN is looking to party in college towns aplenty this year – missing are some of the lamer venues such as Syracuse and Durham in favor of more traditionally collegiate beer and babes locales.
January 17- Chapel Hill, NC (Miami-North Carolina)
January 24- South Bend, IN (UConn-Notre Dame)
January 31- Knoxville, TN. (Florida-Tennessee)
February 7- Spokane, WA (Memphis-Gonzaga)
February 14- Madison, WI (Ohio State-Wisconsin)
February 21- Austin, TX (Oklahoma-Texas)
February 28- Berkeley, CA (UCLA-California)
March 7- Morgantown, WV (Louisville-West Virginia)
Some quick thoughts –
Best Game. We love the UConn-Notre Dame matchup in South Bend. UConn should be close to all the way “back” this season, and Mike Brey will have a top 10 team possibly riding a near-50 game homecourt winning streak in South Bend on that night. Plus we get to see Digger in his ridiculous green tie and marker ensemble. This night has fun written all over it. Our runner-up game to watch would be Memphis-Gonzaga in Spokane, a rematch of a fairly entertaining game from last January.
Likely Stinker. Nobody wants to watch Ohio St. and Wisconsin play bruiserball in Madison on Valentine’s Day, that goes without saying (coincidence? we think not). But the Miami-UNC game on Jan. 17 also has us shaking our heads a little. If you’re going to show us the prohibitive favorites on GameDay, at least give us the courtesy of matching the Heels up with someone who can challenge them… Miami? Hmph – this has 30 point blowout written all over it, and Miami is a Top 25 team!
Who Knows Game. The Feb. 28 game between UCLA and Mike Montgomery’s newly acquired California team would have been a blockbuster had Ryan Anderson stuck around for his junior season in Berkeley. But we’re still intrigued to see what Cal can do in a “big” game like this one, exactly the kind of game that Monty built his rep on down at the Farm in the 90s.
Missing Powers. No Duke this year, which we really can’t believe since the Devils will be a top 5 team. There’s also no sign of Bill Self’s national champion Kansas Jayhawks – instead we get a Big 12 matchup in Austin between Oklahoma and Texas. For the first year in GameDay history, Kentucky will also not be involved in a game this season.
Cult of Personalities. GameDay loves to show certain coaches nearly every year. We mentioned Roy Williams’ UNC squad, who will be making its fifth appearance. Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will also be making their fifth appearance, as will Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns. As a brief sidenote speaking of personalities, the Mar. 7 game between Pitino and Bob Huggins could be exceptional. Louisville should be absolutely loaded next season, and we only have doubts about WVU from their loss of the acrobatic Joe Alexander, but Huggins will have his team sky high for this one anyway.
The Tim Tebow GameDay Clip: