The NCAA is considering starting men's basketball sooner

NCAA considering an earlier start to hoops to build interest.

The NCAA Division I men’s Basketball Oversight Committee wants to generate more excitement at the start of the basketball season and is looking to change the schedule.

George Costanza is apparently heading this up. Not the George who got on a roll by picking to do the opposite of his instinct, the usual one going with his best ideas.

The great excitement builder?

Starting the season three days earlier on the Tuesday before the second Friday in November. In 2018, that is Election Day. In 2020 the week following.

Don’t start the celebration just yet, that major breakthrough hasn’t been official approved yet.

What is the major benefit? It assures that the college season will have started by Veteran’s Day. The thinking is that since there are usually several basketball events held at military venues early in the season, insuring these events can happen around Veteran’s Day will be a big deal.

The biggest problems facing college basketball are: 1. The start of the season gets lost in the focus on football. 2. Too many of the regular season games have no meaningful impact on the post-season. 3. Outside of the NCAA Tournament, post-season games draw little attention. 4. Colleges take longer winter breaks so students are off-campus for more of the season.

Maybe a day of watching college basketball on Veteran’s Day will help but it does not overcome those key problems.

You may remember that a few years ago Indiana was the #1 team in the nation in basketball and they were playing NCAA Tournament darling Butler in a game on CBS that Butler won in a thrilling upset but Arizona (8th best record in Pac-12) vs. Nevada (5th best record MWC) playing in the New Mexico Bowl, available in fewer homes than the hoops game, drew a larger television audience.

If FS1 and ESPNU had scheduled AState-Georgetown and AState-Troy head-to-head instead of one after the other, I suspect fewer would have started out watching AState-Georgetown.

There has been some consideration of a mandatory break while schools are on winter break, on idea being tossed around is a mandatory 3 or 4 days off. Has anyone randomly pulled rosters of college teams? Most schools are going to have a couple guys who aren’t from the US or at least not the continental US and a four day break isn’t going to get them home. Then figure another couple who have to drive more than 10 hours to get home. A four-day break isn’t worth their time. They are more likely to spend it hanging around an empty campus with limited food service available and no games or practices to break the monotony up.

The heart is in the right place but there seems to be an embarrassing lack of understanding about what is actually happening at the member schools.

The Committee has also asked the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee to review rule changes such as widening the lane, making the three point shot longer, and switching from halves to quarters (NCAA actually has tried this before, quarters were used for three seasons in the 1950’s).

If we are digging up old rules, how about one of these?. You can’t pick up your dribble then shoot. Fouls penalized by the fouled team choosing to inbound at mid-court or shooting free throws. My favorite, coach picks who shoots the free throws after each foul.

Considering that 40% of all Division I players leave their school after the sophomore season, how about borrowing another old rule. Eliminate freshman eligibility again. The ones and dones can go play juco or overseas and the rest can spend a year making friends, being students, take a breath away from basketball and be regular students for a year.