Just What We Need...

By David Scott - November 14, 2007


Among the things America doesn't need any more of at this point are: another reality TV concept, another Britney Spears album, another presidential candidate and, as we were reminded on Wednesday, another post-season college hoops tournament.

The College Basketball Invitational is slated to start this March and will be run by the Gazelle Group, the same folks who have brought us the worthwhile in-season tournaments like the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York City and the College Basketball Experience Classic in Kansas City. The Group, based in New Jersey, runs a gamut of high school, college and pro sporting events and from the looks of its website has all sorts of expertise in running, promoting and presumably, making money off its ventures.

It's the last part of the equation that is most likely driving the implementation of a very non-classic post-season event that will compete with the National Invitational Tournament for participants, attention and ticket sales. While we fully embrace entrepreneurship and creativity, the CBI strikes us as neither. Has anyone actually been clamoring for another post-season tournament? Anyone at all?

After the field of 65 (NCAA) and the sub-field of 32 (NIT), the CBI will be left to choose from a bunch of 16, 17, 18 win/10, 11, 12 loss teams as this Gazelle-created mock bracket from last year would suggest. (It's not clear yet whether they will "compete" with the NIT to lure teams, or wait until after that field is set. It's also unclear who will do the selecting for the CBI - most likely bean-counters who will feed on BCS-league teams.)

No matter what the final selection process is for the CB-Why?, the result will be a field of 16 mediocre teams who had mediocre seasons with mediocre results. How thrilling. And what exactly are the teams competing for? A lovely Gazelle-head trophy? And what obscure, hard-to-find network will the games land on TV? (Our bet is Versus, which is already in cahoots with Gazelle.)

Beyond a sub-standard product and the complete and total overkill that will result from a third post-season tournament, there's the matter of the "student-athlete," argument which has long been a standard cry from the opponents to a college football playoff. Sixteen more teams of "student-athletes" will be kept away (unnecessarily) from studies and classes if their schools accept invitations to the CBI. Even if it's not an NCAA-sponsored event, the organization's member institutions will be making up the field and for that, they need to be held accountable - and the BCS leagues should never again be allowed to use the faulty argument in opposition to a football playoff.

Listen, we love college hoops as much as anyone who's reading this right now and March is a wonderful month because of the upsets and buzzer-beaters and underdogs. But it's the games that actually determine something beyond the money that will be added to the Gazelle Group's coffers that make the month and its madness so memorable, and NOT a best-of-three championship between two teams who lost almost half their games in the regular season.

Posted by David Scott at 06:31 PM on November 14, 2007
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