Why early season basketball means so little
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Why early season basketball means so little

Even though most SEC schools are eight or nine games into their schedule basketball is only just beginning to make a ripple on most campuses. Outside of some obvious schools (Kentucky and Vandy being two of them) no one really cares about basketball, outside of the big games, until conference season.

Even though most SEC schools are eight or nine games into their schedule basketball is only just beginning to make a ripple on most campuses. Outside of some obvious schools (Kentucky and Vandy being two of them) no one really cares about basketball, outside of the big games, until conference season. Here are five reasons why that is the case and why Vanderbilt's 4-4 start is nothing more than the prelude to the main event.

Football is king

Obviously in SEC country this is the big reason basketball gains no real traction. With the domination the SEC has had on the FBS National Title for almost the last decade, and with the bowls seemingly running deeper and deeper into January every year, basketball just doesn't matter until football is done. You can even argue that with the current growth of Commodore football one of the few places where early season basketball DID matter is going in a different direction.

TV doesn't care

Until college game day switches to basketball and the football bowl season is over TV really pays little more than a cursory glance towards basketball. It is generally left to local TV stations to pick up the slack, but without the talking heads at ESPN and CBS on the case it is hard to get a true feel of what is going on around the country, especially outside of the top 25 teams.

Road games anyone?

So far in 2012 SEC teams have played in 121 basketball games. Of those 121 matchups only 20 have been true road contests, while the other 101 have been either home or held on neutral courts. Obviously one of the big advantages of being tied to football is the prestige and money that is available to buy games, but judging by the record in road games (3-17) the SEC has some work to do as a conference. Missouri by the way only has just one non-conference road game all season (December 28 @ UCLA).

Level of opponent

One of the big frustrations of early season basketball is the scheduling. Obviously most teams (especially the middle tier) want to play multiple buy games against smaller schools to get themselves prepared for the rigors of conference play. The downside of this is an apathetic fan base who cannot get excited about the likes of Vanderbilt vs. Marist or Auburn vs. IPFW. Maybe this would change if more SEC schools took the Duke approach and actually scheduled tough games early in the season.

Too long between games

I know finals week has a lot to do with this but it just seems like there are too many long stretches without a game during November and December. Vandy was off from December 6-15, Auburn had no games from the end of November to December 10th, and South Carolina is currently in the middle of almost two weeks off. The result of this is a loss of flow for the team and a letdown in excitement for those fans that are into basketball from the start. I don't know that anything can be done about this but it would surely be beneficial for all if more continuity was kept.