To start off the men’s college basketball season, in which many people wait until March to even take a gander into the teams, the NCAA is still making it hard for casual fans to get into the season right away.
All college basketball fans want to see good games being played, and while not all non-conference games need to be ranked matchups, it becomes a problem when all the top-25 teams win by an average of 29 points on the first day.
Even though we were able to see a great showdown between then 14th-ranked TCU and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, nobody wanted to watch that game until they saw a ranked team on the ropes thanks to a Golden Lions squad that was not highly-touted in the preseason polls. Even Bradley played a matchup that was considered a “tune-up game” when they faced UW-Parkside. I cannot name a single person that would rather watch a 34-point blowout win over an edge-of-your seat thriller.
Obviously, you can’t throw a team up against their arch rival in their first game of the season, but it would be nice to see more Power Six teams play against a team ranked in the top 200 as opposed to seeing Chicago State vs Northwestern kick off the start of the season.
It took until the fifth day of the season to really ramp up the competitiveness as some incredible games finally took center stage.
Not including the mid-major matchups of UAB versus Toledo and SMU versus No. 24 Dayton, which casual fans might not have even cared or known about, we were also able to witness a near-upset with Michigan State playing a one-point game to the final minute versus No. 2 Gonzaga. There was also the upset of No. 16 Villanova by Temple to add to the excitement.
While these matchups were terrific, I loved watching all the random close games last week. However, from the standpoint of a more casual fan, you’re waiting for the ranked matchups which didn’t happen until the eighth day of the season. Especially looking at marketing, fans are more likely to watch the very first day of games rather than those that happen a week later. Having more eyes on these competitive and high-stakes games will encourage the NCAA to schedule less tune-up games.
Overall, the NCAA needs to consistently put out a better product so fans are more likely to tune in at the start of the season.