How We Can Make College Basketball’s Regular Season More Meaningful & Exciting

The University of North Carolina won the NCAA Tournament championship over Gonzaga — grinding out a 71-65 game, but are fans getting tired of meaningless regular seasons and ugly post season basketball?

With college basketball seeing its biggest ratings in years, and fans clamoring for more, the time has come for the NCAA and those involved to figure out ways to make the regular season games more relevant, exciting and most important — watchable.

Most die-hard fans have to fight with ending of college football’s exciting regular season and playoffs — not even realizing that the hoops seasons starts in November to small fanfare.

The plan would center on recreating the March Madness atmosphere in the middle of November, or possibly starting season later, after the madness of January’s College Football Playoff.

My Top Sportsbooks has come up with a few humble suggestions and the odds they actually happen. m from around the sport have come up with a few humble suggestions and the odds they actually happen.

Replace mid-season inter-conference “challenges” with tournaments

Currently, fans are treated to mid-season inter-conference showdowns in the form of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Those provide interesting barometers for gauging conference strength, but since each team only plays one squad from the other conference, casual fans don’t have much interest. You can declare one of the conferences the winner at the end of the day, but no single team wins the challenge. Casual fans aren’t going to get excited about a Big Ten win.

Instead of setting aside one weekend for these challenges, we should set aside two and make them actual tournaments. Send the top-four teams from each conference (based on the previous season, so the schedule can be set in advance) and have them play the quarter and semifinals at one site on the first weekend, then have the finals the next weekend between the two surviving teams.

Some others include:

4 Quarters.

What a wild idea! Only every single basketball league in the world, at every age, has four quarters. It’s nonsensical, and the women’s side had to the good sense to change it two years ago. To the surprise of no one, the games have a smoother and more familiar flow and the pace of play is much quicker. The NCAA recently released an absurd statement about implementing quarters in the men’s game, and will be “experimenting during the NIT, without actually calling them quarters or changing the time on the clock. Um, WHAT?!? Just do it, put it four, 10-minute periods, it won’t hurt, I promise.

As a kicker, there are no more 1 and 1 free throws. After 5 team fouls, you get two shots and it resets each quarter. It completely eliminates fouling as a strategy and rewards the teams that attack on offense and don’t foul on defense. GET ON BOARD, MEN’S BASKETBALL!! GET ENLIGHTENED!!

The Mercury News came up with the brilliant but difficult idea of starting the season later, thus only competing with the NBA for ratings and eyes.

You move it.

You move the whole shebang.

Start the regular season the second week of December, end it in early April, and play the Final Four in late April.

March Madness becomes April Anarchy (or May-hem, depending how far back you move it).

It’s the only solution to the football overlap — the only way to ensure the long-term relevance of the regular season.

There are obstacles, of course, but the most daunting is not CBS’ broadcast of The Masters on the second weekend in April.

Under the terms of the current 14-year contract, Turner Sports, not CBS, is responsible for the majority of the $11 billion owed to the NCAA for the tournament broadcast rights. Turner, not CBS, would have greater influence in a date-change discussion.

What’s more, CBS only shows The Masters for four hours on Saturday and five on Sunday. Early-round tournament games slotted for those windows could be played exclusively on the Turner outlets.

The potential conflicts with Turner’s calendar are baseball games and the NBA Playoffs, which begin on April 19th this year.

Turner has three outlets for the NCAAs (TBS, TNT and truTV), and it splits the NBA playoffs with ESPN.

I mean it’s a brilliant idea, and could you imagine the hysteria of the NCAA tournament ending just days before the start of the NBA regular season.

It would be an incredible move for both leagues, while bringing more excitement and more viewership to an action packed regular season.

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