Some people are calling it a gimmick, while some believe it’s all in fun. You can probably call ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off marathon all of the above. Who in their right mind would wake up at 6 a.m. to watch Stony Brook clip Monmouth, 51-49? Did anyone on the east coast stay up to catch the 4 a.m. matchup between Central Michigan and Hawaii?
I’m not sure what the TV ratings are going to look like, but early feedback suggests ESPN’s attempt to broadcast 21 games over 24 hours on its family of networks has been a success, at least as far as some of the hosting campuses are concerned. Over 17,000 showed up to the FedEx Forum to watch Miami take on Memphis.
The McKeon Pavilion had a packed house as St. Mary’s hosted St. John’s at 2 a.m. Ok, so every game wasn’t a sellout. Only 6,000-plus filed into the Stan Sheriff Center (10,300 capacity) in Hawaii to witness the Rainbows host Central Michigan. And a little over 2,300 showed up to Monmouth’s MAC center (4,100 capacity) to watch the home school take on Stony Brook.
Every game doesn’t have to be a sellout. For the some of the mid-major programs like Stony Brook, Monmouth, Hawaii, Central Michigan, being on ESPN is good for exposure. As a student, being able to say you were at a basketball game at an insane hour is kind of what college life is all about.
It's not all about the mid-majors, though. There are several primetime matchups worth watching. No.24 Virginia Tech will face No.3 Kansas State, while Ohio State plays at Florida. On the women's side, UConn will put its 79-game winning streak on the line against Brittney Griner and Baylor at 6.
Is 24 consecutive hours of college basketball on a Tuesday in November crazy? Of course.
Is it the end of the world? Of course not.