Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When A Tournament Is Not A Tournament

The college basketball season started last night as four games were played in the 2K Sports Classic (Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer) Men's College Basketball Tournament.  All the host teams, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Illinois and Texas, won their games.  Only #4 ranked Pitt had a tussle beating back 2010 NIT semifinalist Rhode Island 83-75.

I only watched some of the first half of the Texas vs. Navy game, as the Longhorns struggled at the outset before winning by thirty one points.  It was hard for me to watch however, because this was not a real tournament.  And you can simply find the evidence by perusing the bracket or the August 5th announcement.

The 2K Sports Classic is basically Gazelle Group's way of ensuring four Power Six conference teams play next week at Madison Square Garden. The so called first round "regionals" have the obligatory matchups between the Power Six conferences and mid majors (Charleston, Seattle, UC Irvine, Navy, Toledo, Louisiana Tech and Illinois-Chicago) and one wannabe (A-10's Rhode Island).

While the mid majors and wannabes then square off in round robin fashion in two regionals the "UC Irvine Regional" and the "Toledo Regional" late next week in non-televised regionals, the four other teams get to play in at MSG on ESPN.  That seems really fair.

So much for the opportunity of a midmajor or Rhode Island being able to play in front of the Madison Square Garden faithful.  It's once again the power conferences who benefit.   Now I don't know how much these teams were paid to play in this tournament, or they are strictly doing it for the coaches vs. cancer foundation, but it seems strange that the Rams were willing to play in this tournament.   Yes, they got the opportunity to knock off Pitt, but the rest of the tournament at this point doesn't seem to help them in their strength of schedule for a potential at large bid.  They were only guaranteed one game against a Power Six conference opponent. And as I noted, this is a team that made the NIT semis and were a serious NCAA at large bid contender for most of last season.

The Gazelle Group is the same group of geniuses that have brought you the College Basketball Invitational. You know, the tournament that had three first round games with less than 1,000 people in attendance.  Logic doesn't seem to dictate much in the Gazelle Group's world.  Had they also paid attention to the number of Rhode Island fans at the Garden for their semifinal game vs North Carolina, maybe they would have consider a tournament for a few seconds (OK, maybe a second or two).

So once again, thanks to the 2K Classic, we see the food chain world of the college basketball world.  Power conferences don't have to win their way to MSG and the mid majors and the lone wannabe get to play in non TV land.   And here's the kicker, I am going to be at the semifinals of the 2K next Wednesday night at the Garden.    So my love of live college basketball is overriding my above sense of  fair play.  Love, unfortunately is often blind.  Apparently it's also deaf and dumb.

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