• Dec. 31 | 7:45 p.m. PT
It’s all about the General
At least it is right now.
Bob Knight gets his second shot at Dean Smith’s men’s Division I wins record Monday morning against New Mexico. After losing to UNLV on Thursday, the Red Raiders get a shot against the Lobos, who — thus far — have solved their travel issues because of poor weather.
That probably comes as a relief to Knight, who has made it clear he doesn’t think much of the attention being paid to his 880th win. “My only interest in the next game is trying to get back and see what we can do to play better,” he said after losing to UNLV with no mention of the record.
Fact is, he’s the only one.
New Year’s Day is always reserved for college football bowl games, yet Monday will have plenty of attention focused on college hoops. The build-up to Thursday’s game had reporters around the country weighing in on what Knight’s chase of the record meant, what his legacy is, columnists offering first-hand accounts of interviews with Knight and plenty of articles on Knight’s much-publicized temper. There are even articles comparing Knight to high school coaches.
One of the best ones I’ve read has been from John Feinstein, who published one of the definitive accounts on Knight when he spent a season with complete access to the Indiana basketball team to write the book “A Season on the Brink.” (If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and go find a copy. It’s Feinstein before he became a book-writing machine and somewhat repetitive in style.)
Anyway, Feinstein’s article in the Washington Post is balanced, offers a few fun anecdotes and isn’t too long. One of the most interesting parts was how he characterizes Knight’s view on life, simplified perfectly here:
Knight's philosophy of life basically comes down to this: If I help a little old lady across the street for 10 straight days, but then yell a profanity at her for walking too slowly on the 11th day when I'm running late, I should be excused because I was nice to her the first 10 days. Real life doesn't work that way. Knight life does.
I’d argue that parts of Knight’s life does work that way, though. He’s constantly given breaks from fans, university presidents, athletic directors and other coaches because he’s such a good coach, has won plenty of games and graduates players at a rate associated with Ivy League schools.
For that matter, a lot of people get credit for doing things well most of the time and then when they screw up, people consider what they’ve done and if they should be forgiven. The problem with Knight is that his gaffes aren’t easily forgivable — like choking players.
It’s why Knight is such a polarizing figure and why he’ll forever be an interesting sports figure. He’s good and bad, perplexing and admirable, all at once.
But after that 880th win (or if he screws up again), it’s doubtful we’ll be talking about Knight again until he retires. And at this point, that’s probably the way he’d like it.
• Dec. 30 | 5 p.m. PT
Big, important article of the day
Some may detect some sarcasm in that lead graph, but it’s not intended. It’s just how it came out.
This article by the Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell is long, but worth the time to read and ponder. Don’t let the lack of names sources and plethora of numbers scare you off, either. If you’re a college hoops fan, it’s a sobering look at recruiting.
The gist? Coaches — and certainly not every coach, on that detail, let’s be clear — coaches arrange anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 donations to AAU basketball teams all in the name of convincing a kid to play for their school or to have the AAU coach keep those players away from rival schools. Sure, the coaches don’t directly pay these coaches, but as the story points out, it’s not far off.
“Everyone is doing it,” one prominent AAU coach is quoted in the story. “But if there is a seller, there is a buyer, too, and it involves everyone from agents, runners, college coaches and boosters. AAU coaches say, ‘This is a better, easier way.’ It may seem right, but ethically it is laundering money. While it is different from handing someone a bag full of cash, the intent is the same.”
And when it’s a large donation, teams are guaranteed to land all but the elite players. Consider that tidbit when looking at recruiting classes.
The NCAA hasn’t been able to police this facet because, as one unnamed college coach says, “It’s something coaches would like to see go away, but we know that if it goes away, AAU coaches will just find the next thing to do, the next way around everything. The AAU coaches are street smart. The NCAA is book smart. Who wins that?”
The only case the WP found where the NCAA was able to document payments was with Dave Bliss at Baylor when it was investigation the death of former Bears player Patrick Dennehy. Apparently, it takes a lot for this kind of oversight.
And that’s just depressing.
• Dec. 27 | 9:30 p.m. PT
Annnnnnnd we’re back...
After a holiday break in which I ate too many sweets, got some sweet presents and escaped the nasty winter weather in the Pacific Northwest.
Conference play begins in earnest Thursday. On that, check out this story from the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta.
The Pac-10 always has an uphill battle earning some respect from the media (don’t get Arizona coach Lute Olson started on that subject), mostly because it’s hard for writers on the East Coast to stay up later to catch many of the night games. Still, that perception was given credence last year when the Pac-10’s conference RPI was seventh, just behind the Missouri Valley.
This year, the Pac-10 is ranked second in RPI according to kenpom.com, its highest since 1999. The league actually has the best overall win percentage at 88-22, boosted by undefeateds UCLA and Oregon and fast starts from Arizona, Washington, USC and Washington State.
The conference seems poised to mirror its strong finish in the NCAA Tournament last year, when the Bruins reached the title game and Arizona and Washington nearly knocked off No. 1 seeds.
Me? I’m just thankful I don’t have to stay up until all hours to catch the games.
• For those wishing to watch the surprising Trojans take on the Huskies, too bad.
• Dec. 16 | 5:45 p.m. PT
How much to see history?
Here’s a hint: Alexander Hamilton can get you in.
Apparently Texas Tech fans haven’t heard, though.
The school, in an effort to boost home attendance, has started “Project 880,” where they offer deals on tickets for the next four home games and a bonus ticket if you buy seats for all four home games.
The packages aren’t bad, either. For $50, you get a spot in the lower level for each game, plus an extra ticket for the upper level. Ten more bucks gets you a better seat in the lower level.
But they also offer this bargain: For $8.80, you get one upper level ticket for one of the next four home games. When Knight passes Smith (Dec. 28 against UNLV or Jan. 1 against New Mexico being the likely candidates), it’ll be a fairly significant event. No D-I men’s coach has hit 880 wins before — and few will hit that number again.
But to consider what a bargain a seat for less than $9 bucks is, consider this: when Barry Bonds was going for home run No. 700, one guy bought a section of Dodger Stadium for $30,000 and started selling seats and started selling them at five times his purchase price.
Will fans show up? Probably, it’ll be mostly local fans. The football team plays on Dec. 29 in the Insight Bowl, which means the UNLV game could be less full than officials would like. (And I doubt many people fly in to Lubbock, Texas, specifically for a basketball game.)
To be fair, the Red Raiders’ home slate hasn’t been loaded with top-notch teams. When they beat Centenary on Dec. 9, only 8,645 people attended. Before that, 7,524 fans watched them beat North Dakota State on Nov. 17. A little over 5,000 people watched the home opener vs. Arkansas-Little Rock.
It’s tough to get the crowd excited when that’s the lineup.
• Dec. 13 | 3 p.m. PT
Special rivalries edition
One of the best aspects of college hoops (and college sports in general) are the rivalries teams have with other schools. The big ones get all the hype, but every schools has one, and all those rivalries mean something special to the players, fans and coaches (even if people say they don’t.)
For a quick primer on the best rivalries around, click here.
The Cincinnati-Xavier game kicks off this year’s version of the major rivalry games, while some would argue that Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville is the biggest game of the day. (OK, it’s not more important than the Pittsburgh-Wisconsin game, but it certainly has more history.)
Cincinnati vs. Xavier has never captured the national attention it should, even when Bob Huggins was still coaching the Bearcats. But it’s the one that always has close games, features two teams playing in the same city and in places that are basketball-first schools.
This year’s game is on ESPNU, which means there won’t be a national audience for it and that’s a shame. There won’t be a more entertaining game on TV tonight.
Kentucky-Louisville doesn’t need much of an introduction. This year’s teams aren’t up to the usual standards, but that doesn’t mean the build-up isn’t as big. People are writing about everything, from which coach has the better website to the best games in the series. This article from the Lexington Herald-Leader was great, if nothing for a reminder about how big this game used to be. For video, try this youtube clip.
The Louisville Courier-Journal hasn’t amped up its coverage quite yet, but it does have college football bowl game stories to focus on. Still, the Wildcat stories are always there.
Later in the year, I’ll be looking forward to Kansas-Missouri, Georgetown-Syracuse (thankfully, that rivalry is headed back to its heyday) and of course, that one on Tobacco Road.
What else is out there? Games like Marquette-Wisconsin (Badgers won on Saturday) have the potential to be great rivalries in the future, though I know plenty of people are mad Washington isn’t playing Gonzaga next season.
They shall remain unnamed.
• Dec. 12 | 3:15 p.m. PT
And now, for our top story
At least, the top story of the year proposed by readers.
Friday, I wondered what the biggest storyline of the year would be. Would it be the emergence of Greg Oden or the rest of the college freshmen? (shameless plug: our college hoops expert, Ken Davis, will have a column about this on Thursday. Stay tuned.) Florida’s quest to repeat? Or perhaps how the mid-majors would fare this season in light of George Mason’s run to last year’s Final Four?
Well, I offer this e-mail from Ron, in Anna, Ill. He jumps straight to the Missouri Valley as the story of the year, but is firmly entrenched in the mid-major camp as biggest story. Good to see from a guy who looks like a Southern Illinois fan.
The story of the year may again be the performance of the MVC. They are once again doing very well against non conference opponents. They would be doing even better had Creighton not been mugged this week at Dayton. At this juncture Wichita State is getting all the ink and the ratings and deservedly so at this time. They will continue to do well until they get involved in conference play. Beginning on Jan 1 when they play Southern Ill. on the road their losses will start. Southern Ill. which is 6 and 1 (the one loss coming on a give away in overtime to Arkansas) plays arguably the best defense in the country and does so consistently throughout the season. SIU has all starters back from last season and all seem to have improved their offensive skill. In addition they have excellent bench players (even though two of their best prospects are out with injuries), This team will be at the top of the heap at seasons end. Other teams which will beat Wichita are Northern Iowa, Creighton, Mo. State and perhaps Bradley. Between this group you can expect Wichita to suffer from 5 to 7 losses. Bank on it.
— Ron Bittle, Anna, Ill.
He may not be far off. The Shockers (7-0 through Tuesday) won’t go unbeaten, and they’ll certainly lose 2 or 3 games during conference play. Seven is probably too many, no matter how good the rest of the Mo Valley is.
But thanks for the e-mail, Ron. I’ll be sure to show it to my co-worker who puts the Salukis in the Final Four of his NCAA Tournament bracket every season.
(While I’m on the mid-major subject, the Washington Post had excellent article before the season started about the ACC and how its coaches perceive the rise of the mid-majors and how the league will adjust. It’s still worth a read, if nothing else for the way Maryland coach Gary Williams reacts.)
how about Nebraska and new coach Doc Sadler...after coming up from UTEP and going 48-10 or something similar in two years there, he's hired by NU after our coach quit on August 20th? He's 5-1 to start, with a win over a ranked team - after no time to prepare or recruit, and I hear NU has a top 20 recruiting class coming in..... ok, it's not final four stuff. It's not Duke or NC or Kentucky. But it IS a compelling story....
— Jeff Pokorny, Anchorage, Alaska
Nebraska did get itself a fine coach, especially when it came down to the timing of Barry Collier’s departure. Collier was 89-91 in six seasons with the Cornhuskers, who never had a winning record in the Big 12 in that time. Still, Nebraska doesn’t have much beyond center Aleks Maric and figures to be near the bottom of the Big 12 again.
I offer the next two for the comedy factor. One’s a direct question (Davis answers a similar question on Thursday) and the other a direct rebuttal to a posting on the freshmen to watch. Seems I forgot someone.
What's going on with Arizona, they are looking pretty good. Can Lute pull one out with this young team?
— Dennis Morgan, Cloverdale, Ind.
Uh.........Chase Budinger. Come on you moron.
— From Tucson, Ariz.
Yeah, Budinger can play. He merely leads the Wildcats in scoring. Oops. As for Dennis’ question, check back Thursday. Ken will give a detailed answer on the Wildcats’ prospects. (I think they’ll finish second in the Pac-10, only because UCLA has the better point guard in Darren Collison.)
Looking for more? Maybe we’ll try this again when conference play really gets going in January.
• Dec. 11 | 7:15 p.m. PT
Last-second gift idea
Or for anytime if you know a hoops lover.
Few people are bigger NBA fans than Bill Woten. (That includes people like ESPN’s Bill Simmons, NBA commissioner David Stern and avowed Sacramento Kings fan Rob Neill — who is holding out hope that the Maloof brothers can lure Allen Iverson to Sacramento. Bill’s on par with all of ’em.)
So it makes sense that his new book, “Game 7: Inside the NBA’s Ultimate Showdown,” deals with what is probably the most exciting game in the NBA and maybe all of sports: Every Game 7 in NBA playoff history.
There have been 96 Game 7s in NBA history, and this book, which Bill has been working on for a couple of years, has exclusive interviews (Rick Barry is a fabulous quote in the book and a great Game 7 source), photos, recaps, box scores from every game and other cool tidbits. For starters, I didn’t know that Bill Bradley’s greatest thrill was winning the NBA title.
“But the biggest thrill was winning the NBA championship, and the first one where you have your fists in the air, chills going up and down your spine, a smile on your face so wide that it aches, and you know when you win, you are the best in the world. So, it was a very special thing for me. It was a milestone in my life that I had been on a team and we had won a championship.”
I suppose it would be a little different if Bradley was elected president, rather than just a three-time Senator. (Bradley’s led a mighty full life, hasn’t he? He still holds the record for most points in a Final Four game with 58 in a third-place game against Wichita State in 1965.)
Even if you’re not a huge NBA fan (I’ll admit, I’ve waned in recent years, though the game has been more fun to watch this season and last), it’s worth checking out simply for the nostalgia factor of how great the NBA used to be (read: Russell, Barry, Magic) and how the more recent games stack up.
• Dec. 10 | 6:30 p.m. PT
Still the 1
That opening line is for you, Danny.
I don’t know if he got to watch his Bruins beat Texas A&M on Saturday, but following the reports following the game, the consensus seems to be that UCLA was good enough, while Texas A&M shouldn’t feel bad about the loss.
Meanwhile, the Aggies, who are certain to drop in the polls on Monday after two losses this week, seemed to get the benefit of the doubt. They played better, but lost again or even seemed to improve despite the loss.
Mostly, I think it’s interesting that a game featuring two of the game’s top defenses and was tight and tense throughout would be seen as a good result for A&M and not so much for UCLA. But that’s what happens when a team like A&M is trying to emerge as a hoops power. They get some breaks from writers, who can then be more critical of teams they expect to be great all the time, like UCLA.
I doubt the Aggies feel very good about losing to UCLA and LSU in the same week. Shouldn’t a team trying to establish itself as one of the nation’s top teams — and rest assured, that’s exactly what A&M is, even if it’s hard to believe — win one of those?
And shouldn’t UCLA get some credit for beating a top 10 team? Sure, they could’ve played better, but why wouldn’t it be seen simply as a win over a quality teams?
Expectations man. They help you before the season, but good luck if you’re seen as not performing like people think you should.
(No, I didn’t write this post from on top of my soapbox. It just seemed like it.)
• Dec. 9 | 5 p.m. PT
At least it was a short bus ride
Air Force has played Colorado College nine times since 1956. The Tigers won that first game, 91-72, but that’s it. Still, I don’t think any game in that span has been quite like the Falcons’ win on Saturday.
The 82-31 win was highlighted — or lowlighted, depending on your point of view — by the Falcons’ defense holding C.C. to just six first-half points.
That’s correct, six points.
Few things to mention here. Colorado College is a D-III school that has a new coach and was 7-18 last season. No one thought this game would be close. (Except in proximity. The schools are about 20 miles apart in Colorado Springs.)
Still, a performance like this forces more attention on Air Force, has quickly become the third mid-major team — along with Wichita State and Butler — that every team is scared to play. (OK, so that’s what I envision. Somehow I doubt many other teams are aware of what the Falcons are doing since they’re either, a: focused on their own games and b: probably not too concerned about a team that has just one player taller than 6-foot-8.)
The fun details on the Falcons? The 50-6 halftime lead was the fewest points allowed in a half since Ohio led Central Michigan 35-7 in 2006. The Tigers didn’t score until hitting a 3-pointer nearly 11 minutes into the game. By then, it was 30-3. (The record since 1938 was Duke beating UNC 7-0 in 1979. The Heels used the four-corners offense quite a bit.)
It all means that Jeff Bzedlik’s squad, now 10-1, will have lots of work to top itself in its next two games — vs. Norfolk State and at Northern Colorado. Who makes up this schedule, anyway?
• Rough week for Texas A&M, with road losses to LSU and on Saturday to UCLA, but I’m not sure they’ll take a huge hit in the polls. Still, it can’t help a team’s confidence to come so close in big-time games like that.
• I can’t wait until Greg Oden has complete use of both hands.
• Pitt’s non-conference schedule is usually a cakewalk. Maybe the Panthers got caught looking ahead to their Dec. 16 game against Wisconsin.
• Lastly, Bob Knight is now second on the all-time wins list with 877; 2 wins shy of Dean Smith. Knight didn’t talk to the media after beating Centenary so he could go hunting. Here’s hoping he sticks around when he passes Smith on Jan. 1.
• Dec. 8 | 10:30 a.m. PT
What’s your story?
Last year, it was Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick, all the time. The year before, Roy’s Heels and Illinois’ stab at perfection. St. Joe’s and UConn did more of the same.
But I’m torn as to the biggest storyline for this season.
Consider this: If you would talk about one college hoops topic for the season, what would it be? (a.k.a., what would casual fans know about before March Madness because every sports sections around the country has done a story on it and SportsCenter has it as a de-facto lead-item.)
If Greg Oden progresses the way he’s supposed to, I’m guessing he’ll have the most buzz by the end of the season. Ohio State was awfully good without him, but with the newest version of Shaq/Ewing anchoring the defense, it’s hard to not talk about the Buckeyes.
Still, all the other fabulous freshmen around the country merit plenty of talk, too. If there’s just one to focus on, it’s probably Oden — unless you’re a UNC, Arizona, Texas, Georgia Tech or Washington fan.
If Florida hadn’t had its early stumbles, the Gators would be a good candidate.
Same with George Mason. The Patriots play Duke on Saturday, but haven’t been able to capture any of the magic from their Final Four run last season. So do Butler and Wichita State step into that mid-major void with all the buzz?
If nothing else, maybe Rice’s Morris Almond and Jackson State’s Trey Johnson will have a scoring battle and it’ll be Morrison-Redick all over again. Just on a smaller scale.
But tell me what you think. Send your e-mails with the college basketball storylines you’re following this season and what the overall best story is. I’ll publish selected responses early next week.
• Dec. 5 | 3:30 p.m. PT
If you like offense...
Make sure you watch the Washington Huskies play.
Like previous Lorenzo Romar teams, they emphasize offense (through seven games, they go for 88 points per outing, ninth overall before Tuesday’s games) by focusing on three or four primary scorers and a group of subs who aren’t afraid of shooting whenever they’re in the game.
(For emphasis, I offer these nuggets, courtesy blogger Ken Pomeroy: Washington’s tempo — the number of offensive possessions per 40 minutes — is fifth in the country, at about 80 a game. Recent tempo ratings: 2005-06, record 26-7; 2004-05, record 29-6; 2003-04, record 19-12. In short, they’ve been among the top 25 each of the last four years, and usually among the top 10, which means they’re always pushing the pace.)
Take last night’s 87-72 win over Southern Utah (yes, Southern Utah, but it offers a perfect sampling of what the Huskies like to do).
Washington hit 58 percent of its shots (35-of-60) and was 8-of-19 from three-point range. Junior Ryan Appleby won’t hit 6-of-8 from beyond the arc usually, and freshman Spencer Hawes probably won’t have a night where he goes 9-of-14 again (despite his impressive low-post game), so it was a little unusual shooting-wise.
But the Huskies were relentless on offense, at one point in the first half missing seven straight shots in a 20 second span. Appleby hit from everywhere on the floor, point guard Justin Dentmon had no trouble finding open men for easy baskets and Romar’s nine-player rotation allowed them to run throughout the game.
That said, the Huskies’ perimeter defense is awful, they don’t have anyone like departed senior Bobby Jones to defend the other team’s top scorer — let alone a transcendent player like Brandon Roy — but they will run, run, run.
When they play Arizona — averaging more than 90 points per game, but fewer possessions per 40 minutes — on Jan. 4 and Feb. 3, we may be out of breath just watching.
• Dec. 4 | 4:30 p.m. PT
Their mascot has it down
Gotta love the Mo’ Valley.
Last season, the Missouri Valley placed five teams in the RPI top 35 when selection Sunday rolled around (though, oddly enough, the top team, Missouri State at No. 21, didn’t get a bid, while No. 25 Northern Iowa, No. 27 Wichita State, No. 29 Southern Illinois and No. 33 Bradley all went dancing). League teams didn’t shy away from playing tough non-conference road games, which paid off in the rankings.
Clearly, Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon remains a fan of the method.
The Shockers, who are in the top 10 of the AP poll for the first time since 1982, lined up four straight road-trip Saturdays, winning at George Mason, LSU, Syracuse and ending at Wyoming on Dec. 9. Odds are, they’ll finish that Saturday swing 4-0 and 7-0 overall.
It wasn’t exactly what Turgeon envisioned — telling the Wichita Eagle he “was a little over-eager, but we couldn't get any games and this is what we had to go for” — but it’s vaulted the Shockers into the national spotlight. Along with Preseason NIT winner Butler, Wichita State is the envy of mid-majors everywhere.
Right now, they’re the best team in Kansas. And with all of the McDonald’s All-Americans on the Jayhawks’ roster, that’s saying something.
• In honor of Kansas’ game Monday against USC, here’s a mighty fun read on “Tiny Ron,” the other L.A. center during the late ’60s when he had to face Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
• Seems UConn is getting feisty. The Huskies are “ready to prove ourselves to the country.” Whoa. Yes, Hasheem Thabeet may have blocked 10 shots and A.J. Price is feeling it offensively, but coach Jim Calhoun knows better, as the Hartford Courant reports: “We as a coaching staff have got to keep them in the reality of, ‘You didn't beat Carolina, you didn't beat Pittsburgh or Rutgers or anybody else. You beat Texas Southern.’
UConn will have to wait. It doesn’t go to LSU until Jan. 6.
• Dec. 3 | 9:40 p.m. PT
A month into the season ...
And what do we know?
Florida isn’t dominant. The defending champs have lost twice in their first seven games, once to Kansas, and on Sunday to in-state rival Florida State. The Gators didn’t have Corey Brewer against the ’Noles and clearly missed him on the defensive end, but hasn’t seem to be their biggest problem so far. Rather, team have been exposing the inside defense of Joakim Noah and Al Horford, which should be correctable. Will they solve it by the time Greg Oden and Ohio State come calling on Dec. 23?
And the Buckeyes aren’t just Oden. That much was clear during their loss to UNC. But Oden, who played 23 minutes Saturday against Valparaiso, was impressive while playing with a brace on his right — dominant — hand. As the Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy writes, we won’t see the best of Oden until later in the season when he’s 100 percent healthy. But the early hype is dead-on with this freshman.
Same with UNC’s trio. Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Brandan Wright were dynamite against the Buckeyes and Kentucky.
More freshmen to keep watching? UConn’s 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet blocked 10 shots on Sunday, though it was against Texas Southern. Texas’ Kevin Durant scored 29 in a loss to Gonzaga. Stanford’s Brook Lopez is finally playing, and I’ll be looking forward to watching Spencer Hawes close up Monday night.
Teams who are now required watching: Wichita State (6-0 after beating Syracuse), Air Force (only 1 loss, which was to Duke; as blogger Ken Pomeroy points out, the Falcons are the scary Mountain West team, not San Diego State), Missouri (9-0 start with Mike Anderson at the helm; they don’t miss Quinn Snyder at all) and Butler (though, by now, everyone knows about the Bulldogs).
What’s with Kansas? A week after beating Florida, they lost their second game of the season, albeit to an underrated DePaul squad. Still, I’m not sold on the Jayhawks as a Final Four team until they become more consistent. As my buddy Jeff said Saturday, KU is incredibly frustrating because they look rarely sharp, even when they win.
Finally, tune in this Saturday. And watch Texas A&M play UCLA for the first time since 1971. The Aggies are tough on defense, like the Bruins. A&M has a star guard that is key to its success, like the Bruins. And the Aggies will be looking to cement their spot in the Top 10. Easily the game of the week.
• Dec. 2 | 10 a.m. PT
This is hardly mid-major
The Horizon League has it figured out.
Not only does it feature top-notch basketball — Butler has established itself as the mid-major du jour this season, while Loyola (Illinois) and Wisconsin-Green Bay also are capable of hanging with the big boys — but the league wants you to watch as many games as you can.
Its all-access page features games from every team in the league, for free. Yes, I said free.
Nearly every conference or league has some sort of way to watch games online, but most require a fee, either per game or annually. The Horizon League has sunk in about $500,000 to let each school broadcast their home games. It’s pretty slick, too.
Non-game features and highlights are also available, mostly thanks to the league’s partnership with CSTV.com, which focuses on just college teams.
CSTV already offers plenty of online content, but it costs $14.95 a month to watch. Other conferences, like the Big East, have plenty of online content, but that’s the norm for conferences with schools bringing in millions of dollars from football and basketball revenue (like the money it will get from landing a BCS bowl. The eight football schools share the revenue from bowl games, which go as high as $17 million from the Orange Bowl.) Plus, the schools from major conferences are the ones who are always featured on TV. People usually don’t need the Internet to watch those schools.
On the other hand, the nine teams in the Horizon League don’t have that lucrative TV money, which makes this option for hoops fans even more appealing (and amazing).
What else is out there? A lot of it is as impressive as the Horizon League’s offerings, mostly because of the CSTV partnership. It’s similar to what the West Coast Conference, Patriot League and Mountain West do now, but those all use pop-up windows, which I find annoying.
If you want to watch a Sun Belt game, it’ll cost you $60 for an annual subscription. Same for the Southern Conference, though its packages are cheaper. The Big West has a monthly pay option, or you can sign up for a year. Other video options from The Ohio Valley are available, also for a fee.
The America East will offer streaming video in the future, but for now just has links to other sites to update scores.
(Others, like the Colonial League, Mid-Continent, Southland, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern are all basic sites, with text links and some audio available — though the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference does have “The Slam of the Week” and the Ivy League’s “Ivy at 50” feature are pretty nifty.)
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