The NCAA is hoping an adjustment to the sports calendar will allow college basketball to stand in its own spotlight when the new season begins next fall.
Mark your calendars! Basketball starts even earlier next season! pic.twitter.com/DAwkIgo8xw
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 17, 2018
The NCAA announced the start of the 2018-2019 college basketball season will move earlier in the week from a Friday to a Tuesday, which in theory is to allow for more high profile games to be scheduled and seen by the masses, both on television and on campuses. In addition to noteworthy season-opening tournaments and showcases like the Champions Classic (which has officially been moved to the new opening night of November 6th), the hope is schools will find a way to schedule better on campus matchups to start the year, which may not have been a possibility when opening the season at home on a college football weekend.
Can't wait to celebrate the start of the 2018 basketball season with @dukebasketball , @KentuckyMBB, @KUHoops , and @MSU_Basketball in the Champions Classic in Indy. Even better? Basketball season starts a week earlier on November 6! pic.twitter.com/PEtxjzVpuX
— Champions Classic (@championclassic) January 17, 2018
“It’s not just television windows,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior Vice President in charge of basketball, said (even though it’s always about television windows at the core; we’ll get to that shortly). “A lot of schools can’t host games on Saturday and Sunday if they have a home football games. We should get more compelling, interesting matchups during the first week.”
Adding higher profile season openers to the schedule may not quite pan out as Gavitt may hope. Outside of the made-for-TV season-opening showcase events, many schools try to schedule relatively lightly early on. There may be a good non-conference game sprinkled in once the season gets underway, and there may be a tournament or showcase event for a number of programs, but the first few games of the season largely will not be treated in the way Gavitt seems to think it will. Time will tell.
But let’s not get too carried away. This is always about television windows. The NCAA may be able to shield this decision by the trade-off of giving players three days off around the holidays to make up for starting the season three days earlier, but there is one major reason why starting the season on a Tuesday will be a benefit. Having college basketball not have to fight for air time against the NFL and college football allows college basketball to get the spotlight on various television partners from ESPN to FS1 and the conference networks. It’s a win-win for TV and for the sport.