Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gameday sites announced

When ESPN decided to start doing College Gameday for basketball, many were skeptical about how it would turn out. It made perfect sense for football - for any sports fan, weekends in the fall consist of Saturdays watching the college kids play and Sundays chock full of NFL football.

But was there enough of an audience for college basketball to make it an all day experience?

Apparently so.

Personally, I love it. Just about every team in the country plays on Saturday (it isn't unusual to see 150 games on the schedule), and for junkies like myself, there is nothing better than flopping down on the couch for a full day of hoops. With Gameday starting at 11am, all it meant was I had to start nursing my hangover and hour earlier.

The most interesting part of this year's line-up is the first game. You're reading that right. The Gameday crew will be heading to Storrs not to see Calhoun's boys suit up, but to watch the UConn women, fresh off of an undefeated season. It will be the first time they have gone to a women's game.

In general, the have done a good job balancing the schedule. There is one game from each of the major conferences before the season ends with (surprise, surprise) Duke and UNC. Personally, I would have liked to see them go to a mid-major site like Xavier or Butler. Not only are those two programs (along with other possibilities like Gonzaga, Dayton, or Memphis) now contenders and top 25 teams year in and year out, the turnout would be tremendous. You don't think the entire campus would show up if the Gameday crew went to Butler?

Anyway, here is the schedule. A couple quick predictions:

BEST GAME: Tennessee at Kentucky. The Bruce Pearl-John Calipari rivalry blossomed while Cal was at Memphis, and with the number of athletes on the court I can't help but think that there will be some highlight reel plays. Plus, Tennessee owes UK after Jodie Meeks put 54 on them last year.

BIGGEST BLOWOUT: Kansas at Kansas State. The Jayhawks are just too good this year Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen are good backcourt players, and the Wildcats have a couple talented freshman in the mix, but I just don't see an experienced and talented Kansas team having trouble in Manhattan.

UPSET CITY: Villanova at Syracuse. Losing Devo and Flynn will hurt, but Paul Harris leaving school could be addition by subtraction. Nova does have a couple freshman big men, but with a healthy front line of Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson, the Orange might have the league's best bigs this side of Louisville. If some of the newcomers into Boeheim's program pan out, the Orange will sneak up on a few people this year.

January 16th: Storrs, Conn. - Notre Dame at Connecticut (Women’s)
January 23rd: Clemson, S.C. - Duke at Clemson
January 30th: Manhattan, Kan. - Kansas at Kansas State (6 p.m. show and game at 7 p.m.)
February 6th: Champaign, Ill. - Michigan State at Illinois
February 13th: Lexington, Ky. - Tennessee at Kentucky
February 20th: Seattle, Wash. - UCLA at Washington
February 27th: Syracuse, N.Y. - Villanova at Syracuse
March 6th: Durham, N.C. - North Carolina at Duke

And there are always a few memorable moments.

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