TV Show Recap: “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things”

Posted by mlemaire on February 14th, 2013

Last night was the latest episode of one of my favorite reality TV shows, right up there with “Rick Pitino Making Jokes,” the always popular and unpredictable show, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things.” You thought 24 seasons of  The Simpsons was a lot, well “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” is now in its 37th season and amazingly it still does not lack for high-quality original content. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t truly understand the appeal of the show until around 2008 when the show aired the now-infamous episode in which Boeheim casually beat the ever-loving crap out of a malfunctioning microphone following a win against Long Beach State. After that I was hooked.

The show can make you laugh like the episode with the microphone, or it can make you cringe, like last season’s episode in which some felt Boeheim should have lost his job for insinuating that two men who had accused one of his assistant coaches of molesting them were only looking for money. Plenty have kept wondering whether the show will ever go off the air, but if this season, one which I have been watching devotedly, is any indication, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” still has plenty of gas left in the tank. This season got off to a slow start as the Orange won a lot and didn’t encounter much adversity, but it started to pick up in December when the 900th career coaching victory episode took a surprise twist and ended with Boeheim publicly airing his unsolicited stance on gun control, and who could forget last week’s laugher when our ever-so-candid protagonist explained that he doesn’t read things on the Internet because he doesn’t “want to throw up everyday.”

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Big East M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on January 9th, 2013

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  1. DeAndre Daniels went off against DePaul in UConn’s 99-78 win last night, pouring in a career-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. More importantly, the 6’8″ Daniels grabbed eight rebounds, marking the first time he’s collected more than five in a game since November. The Huskies rank #307 in the country in rebounds per game, and last night was their first dominant performance of the season on the boards, out-rebounding the Blue Demons by 20. In thumping DePaul, UConn scored its most points in a league game since the six-overtime battle with Syracuse in the 2009 Big East Tournament. After failing to eclipse 70 points in six of their first nine games this season, the Huskies have become more prolific since mid-December, scoring 80 in three of their last five.
  2. DePaul certainly didn’t help its cause against UConn last night when news broke hours before tipoff that Donnavan Kirk and Charles McKinney had been suspended for a violation of team rules. Kirk is the Blue Demons’ tallest player at 6’9″, and appropriately leads the team in blocks at 1.9 BPG. The suspensions also left a combined 11.4 PPG on the bench. It’s unclear how long the players will be out, and it will be interesting to see who picks up the slack on both ends of the floor. DePaul returns home to face Cincinnati and St. John’s next week.
  3. Just when it seemed as though Louisville had returned to full strength at the perfect time, we learned yesterday that Chane Behanan would miss seven to 10 days with a high ankle sprain he suffered in practice on Monday. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by freshman power forward Montrezl Harrell, who acquitted himself well in extensive play during Gorgui Dieng’s injury but lacks Behanan’s aggression on the boards and polished footwork in the low post. As Card Chronicle’s medical advisor points out, high ankle sprains require, on average, “three to six weeks” to fully heal, so there’s no guarantee we’ll see Behanan in the Syracuse game in 10 days.
  4. After dropping its first two Big East games, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh squad rebounded by traveling to D.C. and handing Georgetown its “worst loss of the JTIII era” last night. The 73-45 drubbing, which was statistically over with six minutes left, “exposed Georgetown’s limitations like none of its predecessors,” says Casual Hoya. The Hoyas have scored 46.5 PPG through two straight Big East losses, and it’s hard to visualize JTIII’s team as the contender we envisioned in the preseason given their many offensive handicaps.
  5. The Big East reportedly hit up ESPN for $300 million in annual television rights during their exclusive negotiation window this past fall. This revelation was obviously met with derision and mockery across the Internet. Lost in the Big East’s implosion and subsequent media rubbernecking is the fact that the league was in the midst of negotiating a pretty lucrative television contract before the wheels finally came off. As The UConn Blog pointed out on Twitter, such an exorbitant request would have only been made to force ESPN’s hand in closing its exclusive negotiation window with the Big East, allowing the league to shop around with other networks.
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Big 12 M5: 11.08.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 8th, 2012

  1. With the election now in the rear-view mirror, Matt Norlander over at CBSSports.com wondered if the presidential race was decided by states with the best basketball programs. Norlander’s sample size is comprised of his site’s preseason top 26 because he felt it wouldn’t be as compelling if states like Alaska, Hawaii or Wyoming were put on a level playing field with say, Indiana and Kentucky. It was a close “race” between the number of red states and blue states but the electoral vote count will remind you of the results from Tuesday. It is also worth noting that each of the Big 12 teams in their top 26 are in red states. I’m just saying.
  2. USA Today Sports‘ Eric Prisbell and Nicole Auerbach give us a list of coaches with the most to prove this season and two of them are Kansas State’s Bruce Weber and Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford. While these coaches do have some work to do this year to justify their positions, they’re at different levels on the totem pole. Weber is in his first year of a new job while Ford is a bad season away from losing his job. The article also lists UConn’s Kevin Ollie as another coach with a lot of pressure this year, so if you’re going to list guys who have limited head coaching experience with limited time with which to work, Chris Walker of Texas Tech would be as good a candidate as any.
  3. We now know how long Oklahoma State forward Michael Cobbins will be sidelined. Travis Ford announced he’ll be out “about a month” after suffering an injury in Monday’s exhibition victory versus Ottawa University. Le’Bryan Nash threw an alley-oop pass to Cobbins but the pass went over his head and he fell on an Ottawa player. This, of course, is bad news for a coach already without two key pieces in his rotation — Phillip Jurick who is still recovering from an Achilles injury and J.P. Olukemi who is dealing with a knee injury. Guard Brian Williams, of course, is also out for the season. Get well, Cowboys.
  4. Tuesday night West Virginia dominated its exhibition game like any good program, beating Glenville State, 95-53, and head coach Bob Huggins isn’t happy. As a team the Mountaineers shot 50% from the floor, Deniz Kilicli dropped 19 in an efficient 8-for-10 shooting night, Aaric Murray had 13 points, nine boards, and two blocked shots, while Juwan Staten had 16 points, six dimes and zero turnovers. So what does Huggins think? “We’re going to look at how we didn’t run any offense.” Riiiight, coach. I see what you did there.
  5. Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale are two of ESPN’s most visible college basketball personalities and while they have had moments of disagreement over the years, they have finally agreed on one thing: Oklahoma and Lon Kruger are on the rise this season. I don’t like the fact that Kruger doesn’t stay at places very long but what Vitale says is true: He can flat-out coach. Take a good coach like Kruger, the returns of Steven Pledger and Romero Osby, the arrival of Amath M’Baye, an emerging point guard in Sam Grooms, and I believe they will hear Greg Gumbel call their name out on Selection Sunday.
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Ranking the 2013 Big 12 Recruiting Classes as of Right Now

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 24th, 2012

With the lull between Midnight Madness and the start of the season, there’s not a whole of compelling topics that need covering. So it only makes sense to rank how each Big 12 team is faring out on the recruiting trail. While getting some help from Verbalcommits.com, here’s how my league teams shake out among players in the class of 2013 as of right now.

As of Now, Wayne Selden is the Top Prospect Entering the Big 12 Next Year

10. Texas Tech

Commitments: None

Analysis: This was an easy one. Texas Tech isn’t exactly the hottest thing going right now. Forget top-flight recruits, but how are mid-level prospects going to want to go to Lubbock when they just fired the head coach after one season and currently have an interim who may also be gone after this year? If they’re going to get anyone, they’ll probably be players who committed and de-committed to a bunch of schools or players who’ll take a Red Raider scholarship because it sounds better than say, a Florida Gulf Coast scholarship.

9. Texas

Commitments: None

Analysis: Surprised? The reason I put the Horns here is because they don’t have any verbal commitments at the moment but when all is said and done, Texas will surely rack in some recruits of notoriety. Currently, they have two scholarships available for prospects including the top power forward in the class, Julius Randle, and a trio of four-star talents: Keith Frazier, BeeJay Anya and Brandon Austin. Methinks the Longhorns will be just fine.

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Big 12 M5: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 15th, 2012

  1. It’s October so it must be time for… bracketology? CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm takes a swing at how the 68-team tournament will look on Selection Sunday 2013. Like in 2012, Palm has six Big 12 teams making the field. Take his opinion for what you will but this is the same guy who continued to keep Northwestern in his bracket even after it went out of style (and right on cue, the Wildcats are one of his “first four out”). As for the bracket itself, it looks pretty balanced among the power conferences and for non-AQ schools, the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West are projected to once again be the best basketball leagues for mid-majors. Something interesting of note is that the five teams from last year’s actual bracket that are the exact same seed in Palm’s 2013 projections (not counting #1 or #16 seeds): Missouri (#2), Notre Dame (#7), Kansas State (#8), Davidson (#13) and Ohio (#13). And there you have a useless fact. You’re welcome.
  2. Here is the latest on the trial of former Oklahoma State player Darrell Williams. On Friday, district judge Phillip Corley denied Williams a retrial on his two counts of rape by instrumentation and was sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence. Since Williams had already been in custody since July 2011, he was able to walk away a free man, with a catch: Williams must register in the state of Oklahoma as a Level 1 sex offender, which the state considers to be someone who probably won’t commit such a crime again. The defense believed they had enough evidence in Williams’ favor for a possible retrial. Now he, his family and friends are left with a bitter taste in their mouths as Williams adjusts back to society.
  3. Bob Huggins may not have been crazy about being ranked sixth in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll but methinks he’ll be feeling a lot better soon. West Virginia AD Oliver Luck revealed that the university was in the process of giving Huggy Bear a contract extension and raise. In 2008, WVU and Higgins signed an 11-year contract worth $27.5 million, with a $2.3 million salary slotted for 2012-13. Luck said the deal would be done by the end of the year. This makes all the sense in the world: He’s 59 years old, coaching at his alma mater, and winning. A lot. I’m glad the Mountaineers joined the league because now there’s room for a mini-rivalry to develop between the Mountaineers and the Kansas State Wildcats. It’s just good to have Huggins back in the league.
  4. ESPN made a change to its Big Monday announcing teamBob Knight, everyone’s favorite… something, is being replaced on Big 12 games by Fran Fraschilla paired with Brent Musburger. This move seems to be popular with everyone who cares about it, but I’ll miss Musburger-Knight for two reasons: 1) Any announcer who does a game with Knight other than Musburger seemed to be intimidated by his presence on broadcasts; and 2) Brent and Bob had kind of a Verne Lundquist-Bill Raftery thing going on. They’ve both seen tons of college hoops in their days and played well off of each other on the air. On the other hand, it’s good to have Fraschilla doing Big Monday games after being paired with Ron Franklin a few years ago.
  5. It’s no secret: Kansas is deep. And some of that depth will miss some time with an injuryZach Peters will be out for a month while he rests a rotator cuff injury. Surgery isn’t necessary in his case but he won’t be able to practice until the regular season gets underway. Again, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal considering the Jayhawks’ talent at the forward position but it’ll be crucial time missed for a freshman who may eventually become a big part of the team in the future.
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Big Ten M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on October 11th, 2012

  1. Michigan State players rarely receive unanimous votes to be team captain, but that’s what Derrick Nix received this fall from his teammates, this coming even after a marijuana arrest last spring. Nix, the Spartans’ lone senior, was named one of two team captains along with redshirt sophomore Russell Byrd. Nix was a solid contributor for MSU last season, averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in the shadow of star forward Draymond Green. Now, Nix will be called upon to step up in a young frontcourt. According to the Detroit Free Press, Tom Izzo was debating whether to allow Nix’s name on the ballot due to the arrest, saying, “It’s either going to be a huge, huge success story or egg on my face. I think it’s going to be a huge success story.” Nix won’t serve a suspension this year stemming from that arrest.
  2. As team practices are about to get start, Wisconsin has already lost star Mike Bruesewitz for the first four to six weeks of the year. Bruesewitz was injured during a team workout when he ran into the sharp part of the basket and was cut between the knee and the ankle. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the cut was at least 12 inches long and that Bruesewitz’s bone was showing. This isn’t a common injury for athletes, so it’s tough to judge when Bruesewitz will be fully back, but he will be missing most of preseason practice and possibly the first couple weeks of the season. That’s not a huge blow for the Badgers, but it could take some time before Bruesewitz returns to form.
  3. Preseason rankings are meaningless, especially in a sport with such a big postseason, but they’re a fun way to pass the time in the offseason and they give a rough look of who could contend for a National Championship. Not only that, but they also show which leagues are the best. Fresh off a year in which the Big Ten was arguably the nation’s best conference, things look to be pointing in that direction again, as ESPN.com ranked four Big Ten teams in the top 10 of its preseason rankings — Indiana at No. 1 — and six teams in the top 25.  As the season goes along, the rankings will change. However, it’s clear heading into the season, that the Big Ten is once again the conference to beat.
  4. The Jabari Parker sweepstakes is heating up, as Parker narrowed his list to five schools — Michigan State, Duke, BYU, Florida and Stanford. Parker will reportedly take a visit to MSU next weekend — the weekend of October 20. Parker, of Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy — the same high school as Derrick Rose — is the No. 1 player in the country and has been dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the best high school player since Lebron James. While that might be a bit premature, Parker is undoubtedly a special talent and could singlehandedly vault the Spartans into the National Championship discussion once he arrives on campus. MSU has yet to secure a commitment for the class of 2013.
  5. Two decades after the “Fab Five,” Michigan has yet another vaunted recruiting class coming in for 2012. The Wolverines’ class ranks ninth in the Scout.com rankings and includes three four-star recruits, including center Mitch McGary, who is ranked No. 10 in the country at his position and held offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina, among others. McGary is joined by four-star forwards Nick Stauskas and Glenn Robinson, three-star guard Caris LeVert and unranked point guard Spike Albrecht. However, according to M-Live, this group isn’t seeking the same attention the last “Fab Five” did. In fact, the article gave them a new nickname: The Modest Five. Regardless of what they’re called, this group has the potential to make Michigan a top 10 team this season, and it gives Michigan arguably its most talented team since the original “Fab Five.”
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Big East Commissioner: TV Deal with ESPN ‘Not Anywhere Near Done’

Posted by mlemaire on October 9th, 2012

When the Big East broke the trend of hiring experienced sports administrators and brought former CBS executive vice president Mike Aresco on board as its new commissioner, there was little doubt that Aresco’s experience in programming and negotiating large television played a large role. The conference didn’t have to wait very long to see its new hire in action as one of Aresco’s first responsibilities as commissioner was to secure a lucrative, long-term television deal with ESPN.

New Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco Has His Hands Full Trying To Land A Favorable Television Deal With ESPN (Photo credit: John P Filo/AP Photo)

But now, with little more than two weeks left before the two sides’ exclusive negotiating window closes, the deal doesn’t appear to be any closer to being done than it did when Aresco took over. The new commissioner told reporters that the deal between the two sides is ‘not anywhere near done’ and that there has been plenty of interest from rival networks as they sense an opportunity to capitalize.

Now, it should be clear to anyone with even the most minimal business sense that Aresco’s comments could be true, or they could just be a rather transparent negotiating ploy to create the aura of competition between ESPN and its rivals even if there isn’t one. It will be interesting to see whether ESPN eventually decides to get the deal done or whether they believe the price is just too steep for a conference that doesn’t have nationally-relevant football programs and is in the process of losing three of their best basketball programs.

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #29 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 9th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#29 – Where Love Him or Hate Him Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Is There A Method To The (Midnight) Madness? Reviewing the ACC Events This Season…

Posted by ARowe on October 8th, 2012

Every year in the middle of October, college basketball fans get their first sweet taste of honey — the first official practice of the upcoming season. This used to be an unceremonious start to the college basketball year until October 15, 1971. At 12:03 AM that morning, Maryland head basketball coach (and former Duke center) Lefty Driesell had his players report for a one and a half mile run around the track at Byrd Stadium that was watched by 3,000 rabid fans. In 1982, the University of Kentucky officially dubbed the event “Midnight Madness” and the tradition spread like wildfire around the never-ending Keeping Up With The Jones’ culture surrounding college athletics.

With a Clean Bill of Health, Roy Will Have More Reason to Dance This Year

In the past, these events were typically only attended by the most obsessed basketball fans around the country, willing to stay up past midnight to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. Layup lines (a boring, repetitive practice that no one even watches before real games), scrimmages (who do you root against?) and skits that dress up power forwards in tutus dominate the itinerary. In 2005, the NCAA allowed schools to move up the time of the first practice to 7 PM on the closest Friday to October 15. This allowed these made-for-primetime showcases to actually take place in prime time. ESPN now televises these glorified scrimmages across their family of networks, dispatching their TV analysts and color commentators to the blue blood programs and up-and-coming schools to hype up their viewers for the season to come. Schools use the events to showcase their program to recruits, who often schedule their visits to schools during this weekend.

Around the ACC, different schools have taken different approaches to the “Midnight Madness” festivities and often refer to the first public practice by a different name. This year, for the first time I can remember, schools are even spreading out the event on different days. This change may be due to the newer, relaxed practice time rules which took effect for the first time this offseason.

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Big East Fully Embraces Importance of TV In Hiring Mike Aresco as Its New Commissioner

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 15th, 2012

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

For years the Big East has sat back and watched as conference realignment marginalized its position in the modern college athletics landscape. This realignment – driven almost entirely by football-oriented television rights contracts – prompted Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two league forerunners with longstanding rivalries and successful track records, to bolt for the ACC, a league that in May announced a restructured broadcasting rights deal with ESPN worth $3.6 billion over 15 years. Longtime affiliate West Virginia and near-member TCU also deserted the struggling league in favor of the Big 12 – another league cashing in on the recent power conference TV contract frenzy by agreeing to a $1.2 billion deal with Fox. The Big East in response embarked on a nationwide courtship to increase its membership before entering a crucial 60-day negotiating window with ESPN this September to secure a lucrative TV rights deal of its own. It has since added Houston, SMU, Memphis and Central Florida, with Navy, Boise State and San Diego State also joining as football-only members. Once a bastion of exemplary conference leadership and stability, the Big East has morphed itself into an amalgam of disparate parts with no geographical unity or identity. More importantly, its bargaining hand heading into the crucial negotiating period to determine its future status in the major conference pecking order lacks substance. And so the expectation was that the Big East, now a shell of it former self and withering at the expense of TV rights-motivated inter-league poaching, would muddle its discussions with ESPN and further diminish its standing within the power conference structure.

As the Big East prepares for its crucial TV rights negotiating period with ESPN, Aresco is the perfect leader. It remains to be seen how he will fare in his new position beyond this fall.

The floundering league took major strides Tuesday toward securing a far sweeter deal than it otherwise may have anticipated when it announced the hiring of Mike Aresco as its new conference commissioner. Aresco’s latest position comes on the heels of his stint as vice president of programming at CBS Sports, before which he worked in the programming department at ESPN. The Big East scrambled to fill the vacant position after former commissioner John Marinatto resigned in May amid concerns that he was ill-prepared to lead the league into its critical television negotiations period. The clear hope is that Aresco will work in conjunction with Evolution Media Capital (EMC) and Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures (a group that recently negotiated the Pac-12’s groundbreaking $3 billion TV rights deal) in striking a similarly advantageous package. If the Big East and ESPN cannot reach a deal within the exclusive 60-day negotiating window, then the league’s TV rights will be open to the highest bidder.

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Dissecting Joe Lunardi’s First Bracketology: Three Reaches and Three Underrateds

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 14th, 2012

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

A three-month chasm stands in the way before another new beginning to another college basketball season. The NCAA Tournament won’t take place for another four months on top of that. But even with that distant timetable, the world’s premier bracketologist, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, thought it pertinent to release his early projections for the 2013 Field of 68. From this faraway August vantage point, reasonable cases can be made for most every team’s inclusion. After all, no one has actually played any games; thus we have no hard evidence – beyond what our speculative eyes can gather from offseason work, recruiting hauls, summer practices and European tours – that any team actually deserves a Tournament berth. As such, it’s hard to find great fault with Lunardi’s summer projections, if only because we have no factual evidence to debunk their authority. In fewer than three months, teams will officially begin their RPI-building missions, hoping over the winter span to construct a Tournament-worthy resume. It’s a long and enduring process, but come March, Lunardi usually has a pretty decent sense of whose season-long body-of-work belongs and whose doesn’t make the cut.

It’s never too early to begin analyzing March Madness bracket projections

For such a subjective process, Lunardi has over years of trial-and-error deconstructed the Tournament selection procedure into a predictive science. Fans often take his word as fact, or at least to the point where their Selection Show expectations are tempered by Lunardi’s analysis. In that context, it’s not hard to figure out why, even during these late summer months, his brackets drive both positive and negative discussion. The Lunardi bracket craze has reached yours truly, and as a starved college hoops fan, I couldn’t help but pore over its contents. All in all, the entire field seems reasonable, though I did come upon quite a few intriguing placements. To convey my thoughts in coherent form, I’m laying out three teams whose positions seem to be overstating their talent and three others who were undersold by Lunardi’s layout (“Underrateds”). These impressions derive only from the superfluous knowledge we have of each team at this point in the offseason, and how those vague profiles fit within Lunardi’s bracket. When the season begins, my perceptions will no doubt change, as will Lunardi’s March projections, so understand the limited scope from which these interpretations stand. This is merely an avenue to analyze sports’ greatest postseason tournament in a detached and unbiased way, without much in the way of evidence… more than a half-year in advance.

Reaches

UCLA: one-seed (West)

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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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