Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the proposal offered by WAC commissioner Brian Thornton that would pause the regular season for 22 mid-major conferences in February to allow for big name, non-conference matchups aimed at boosting NCAA Tournament resumes.
DAN WETZEL: All right, here's an interesting story from college basketball. Kind of cool Matt Norlander story on CBS. 22 of Division I's 32 conferences are going to try to clear a week of their season like mid-February. And expect to play away game and a home game. And it's just kind of like the old bracket buster thing they did for NCAA. And none of these will be the major--
PAT FORDE: Mm-hmm.
DAN WETZEL: --conferences at least. The top six. Because they've got too much money in the TV deals. But they could presumably get to the Mountain West, and the Atlantic 10, and those kind of leagues that have some good basketball. And an algorithm they would have-- like a Selection Sunday and an algorithm based on how their season is going would pair up all the teams on an even thing.
So you'd add two quality nonconference games and kind of add some pop to the middle of the season when people aren't really paying attention to those. Like it's easy for a Gonzaga or a-- I don't know-- whomever to jump in and get like a good early season. We're playing Duke early in the year, or we're at this Vegas little tournament. Think the Maui classic but mid-February. It's good for bubble teams to add an extra game.
DAN WETZEL: Thoughts? I mean, I don't know how this could be a bad thing.
PAT FORDE: No, it's a great thing. I think it's fantastic. It is good on every level unless you are the eighth-best team in the ACC, and you may be threatened. Because two good teams from like the Missouri Valley and A10 are going to play each other and get a quality win. So I don't think most of us have a whole lot of sympathy for the eighth-placed team in the ACC in general when it comes to NCAA tournament selection. So I think it's a great thing.
It does help those conferences. It is good, unique. I like outside-the-box thinking and good TV content, interesting games, but matching good teams that will help them. There's nothing wrong with them.
And I think one of the big errors college basketball has made in recent years is just failing to capitalize on various points in the schedule by delivering good TV content. You get to February, Super Bowl lands, some more audience comes in. And that's where you get something like this that brings in a bunch of really interesting games that will have NCAA tournament impact as people start thinking about who's in and who's out.
And Dan gets mad because Joe Lunardi cranks up, but people are watching that stuff about who's on the bubble and who isn't. But I just think it's a fantastic idea. Brian Thornton, the WAC commissioner. I've known him basically a little bit since he was in high school in Louisville, Kentucky. He's from Louisville, went to Eastern High School. Smart, smart guy, worked for the NCAA, new commissioner there, young guy, and he's made an immediate impact, I think, with this very good idea.
DAN WETZEL: I'll go one deeper on this. I think they should turn this into some kind of a tournament. And maybe you break off the-- if you're ranked in the top 16 or something or the top eight at least of whatever the algorithm of the participating things, play three games in one site, hand out a trophy, get an NIL deal so the players get a kick. Somehow reward the players, but put one in the middle for these midmajors. You can probably turn it into a single event that would get a decent crowd.
PAT FORDE: And good media coverage. Hell, I'll go.
DAN WETZEL: Good media coverage. Put it in India or something, and drum up some-- get it on TV. People love one and dones. Like the people will watch like that basketball tournament for a million bucks. Do or die, there's something to play for. You win this trophy. The team that wins gets the money, and everyone's going for it. And the gambling interest will be there.
Create an event for the non-- if you're not in the Power Five or Six, do that and say, you know what, I think this is going to be better. I think it's like, next year if you have Houston playing Gonzaga, and there's a million on the line somehow or some amount of money and a trophy that you want to win, that's better than just Purdue playing Iowa. We can get a better rating. I don't know.