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Nardone: College Basketball is Missing Matinée Madness

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

There’s a way to acknowledge that college basketball teams no longer playing games on weekday afternoons gives me the sads, but at the same time thinking the games themselves were always highlighting some of the craziness which is pretending to care about student-athletes as the universities shipped them all around the country to play hoops on a school day, right?

As a person who thinks early season matinée games do help thwart the NCAA’s own motion of its caring of the kids, it is hard to admit this. But the selfish part of me really thinks the world of college basketball is missing a golden opportunity to use matinée action to continue to build its brand.

Seriously, the night is owned by big program, other sports, and television shows.

Not to mention our Netflix binges, nights out with friends, and whatever the heck else all of us wackos do in the evening.

I use my evenings to moonlight as a Chuck Norris impersonator.

I use my evenings to moonlight as a Chuck Norris impersonator.

Theoretically, the idea being something along the lines of smaller conferences “owning” a four-hour block on a Wednesday would be about the best thing in the world. A league like the NEC, or the like, having a TV-deal struck with an ESPN or FOX to air their in-conference games on Wednesday from noon to four.

Thing is, it would be truly good for smaller leagues.

Even though many of the hundreds of teams in the country get national TV exposure at times, very few of the small conference teams get time on the picture-box regularly. While a noon to four slot on a Wednesday wouldn’t be a ratings bonanza, the basketball programs would have a larger platform to showcase their programs to mid-level recruits. In return, ESPN, or whatever network it would be, would get some cheap midday programming.

It’s really simple, too.

Outside of the fact that it would only continue to make a mockery of amateurism, it’s rather surprising that matinée basketball hasn’t become a thing by now.

With all the big boy conferences dominating national TV slots at night, it has only left the out-of-conference schedule — or the portion of the season when mid-majors look bad against power conferences teams — as the time many in the nation would get to see the Belmont Bruins all year.

Admittedly, the logistics of this would be somewhat troublesome: Kids playing basketball when they’re intended to be in school doing some book-learning and all. Although, I do imagine if programs are able to figure out how to send kids to play on aircraft carriers halfway across the country, they could figure out doing something similar every few Wednesdays.

Logistics are for losers

Logistics are for losers

That’s the best part, too.

The networks would be rotating which four teams each Wednesday to highlight. It wouldn’t only be a great showcase of the respective programs, either. It would give the viewing audience a chance to see some of the best players they’ve never heard of.

Imagine if players such as Ian Clark or Keifer Sykes had this type of platform when they were playing? By the time March came around, with their conference tournaments starting, it would have become appointment viewing for many.

There honestly only seems like two reasons to give push back on this:

1. Universities will feel too yucky having student-athletes play on a weekday on the regular. Even if it is only to help continue the charade that is amateurism.

2. Networks feel like they won’t draw a big enough audience to recoup the money given to the league(s) for the TV rights.

I could be wrong or missing something here, I admit that. That said, social media is always abuzz whenever there’s a sporting event happening on a weekday afternoon. Obviously the people who are working (like, actually working) are going to miss out on the fun, but so do the many who go to bed before the very late-game tips. Not everyone can be involved all the time.

It is part of life. Sad face, I know.

While they will certainly lose the potential group of the folks who work, they could gain an entire group of basketball-hungry people who are so super pumped that hoops is on at two on a Wednesday afternoon. They could air a men’s league game and folks would watch. So there’s that, as well.

Regardless, this is a pipe dream that will never happen.

Not unless all parties involved think there’s enough loot to be made. It is a shame, too. Not like a horrible shame, but the type of shame that follows after someone realizes an opportunity just flew by and no one did anything to grab it.

Hey, small conference schools… pitch it to the networks. What is the worst that can happen?

And I always thought you had my back, Zoey.

And I always thought you had my back, Zoey.

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