The NBA had the Miami Heat at the Boston Celtics.
The NFL had a rematch of the NFL championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.
College basketball has the following four games on tap tonight:
- Rhode Island at No. 5 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
- UC Irvine at No. 13 Illinois, 8 p.m.
- Seattle at Maryland, 8 p.m.
- Navy at Texas, 9 p.m.
Not exactly a matchup of heavy hitters.
Man, do I miss the days when four elite teams were brought to New York City to tip-off the season.
But the times have changed.
Now all the BCS teams want home games as part of an early season tournament – which means you won’t see a Duke vs. Michigan State to kick off the college hoops campaign.
``We’d love to be able to do it,” said Gazelle Group’s Rick Giles, who runs the Coaches vs. Cancer event that kicks off tonight with four games. ``We loved that format and it would be beautiful, but it’s not going to happen.”
``We can’t attract the teams to do it any more,” he added. ``Everyone wants four games now.”
It all began to change when the NCAA, in 2006, repealed the “two-in-four” rule that kept teams from playing in multi-team events more than twice in any four-year span.
Now instead of events such as the Maui Invitational, Preseason NIT and even Coaches vs. Cancer all being loaded with Preseason Top 25 teams, tons of tournaments have popped up (i.e. Old Spice, 76 Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off) which has resulted in a dilution of talent.
Now it’s just a bunch of mediocre events.
Just look at the Preseason NIT – which has a pair of Top 25 teams in Villanova and Tennessee along with UCLA and potential ACC doormat Wake Forest.
This used to be a Can’t-Miss event. Now it’s just another tourney.
So, that’s why you won’t see the heavy hitters against one another to kick off the season. However, the reason why the Coaches vs. Cancer is able to get underway prior to all the other tourneys is because it’s been grandfathered in through its television deal and also its deal with Madison Square Garden.
The two elite early season events this season are the Maui Invitational – which has three ranked teams in Michigan State, Kentucky and Washington – as well as UConn and Wichita State.
The CBE Classic in Kansas City, also run by Giles and the Gazelle Group, has three Top 25 teams in its four-team field: Duke, Kansas State and Gonzaga – and Marquette could wind up as a Top 25 team at some point.
The crazy part is that Giles actually inked Kansas State to the contract immediately after Bob Huggins took over the program back in 2006.