BracketBusters, tournaments and more before a mini-break
It’ll be up and running again Saturday, in time for the Rider-Siena game at Alumni Gym.
In the meantime, a couple things to note before we get to the PMI. Since that stuff will take up a considerable amount of space, I’ll put the PMI up as a separate post.
First, there’s been some discussion in the comments and elsewhere about Siena’s BrackerBuster matchup.
As my colleague Pete Iorizzo wrote earlier this week, ESPN is not picking these matcups based on who it thinks are the best teams or which games would be the most relevant for the NCAA tournament committee to watch. It’s picking them solely for what’s going to get it the best ratings, and I don’t think it’s difficult to see why a team that went to the Elite Eight last year and has a potential first-team All-American was chosen to play No. 11 Butler.
If you consider the matcup a slap in the face to Siena, I think you’re misinterpreting what the BracketBuster is and probably also undervaluing Northern Iowa, which happens to be the first-place team in what is perennially the top mid-major conference in the country.
As for Rider, a commenter opined that ESPN pitting the Broncs against lowly UMBC is proof of how little respect Rider gets.
I think that statement is more or less correct when it relates to this year’s team, and I think Rider has been inconsistent enough that no one in Lawrenceville can complain about drawing a low-profile opponent.
I disagree, though, that the matchup says anything about the program as a whole. If the program isn’t worthy of anyone’s attention, why did the Broncs play a fairly high-profile team last year in a TV game? If your argument is that they were only on TV and in a good game because of Jason Thompson, then you have to give them credit for recruiting Thompson in the first place.
Next, today’s paper has a more in-depth look at the MAAC tournament selection process and Mohegan Sun’s role as a contender for the tournaments in 2012-14.
I talked to a handful of athletic directors and administrators, in addition to Paul Munick, the senior vice president for sports and entertainment at Mohegan Sun, and Rich Ensor, and got some interesting answers.
I wrote last month that with the formal bid process a couple months away from beginning, Mohegan Sun was the frontrunner. Ensor said he thought it was too early to use that term, since, as he has said before, so much will depend on the bidding process. Here’s his full statement, part of which is in the story:
Neutrality is certainly an issue, but equally so are branding issues, where will team fans travel, revenue flows from ticket sales and sponsorships. Everyone in the business is concerned about the economy, its impact on discretionary spending, travel costs, and sponsorships. While a case can be made for the Mohegan Sun, I can expect neutral site cases could be made for the Prudential Center or the Izod Arena at the Meadowlands. Our member schools with arena availability are also aggressively pursuing the bid. Competition is a good thing and provides the league membership with attractive options. Time will tell how it all turns out, which is why the bid process take six months and these types of questions can be raised, examined and addressed. Should be an interesting period.
So that’s what we’re here for: to raise, examine and discuss them.
One thing I’ll add is that it seems clear that there aren’t many people around the league who are excited about the possibility of putting the tournaments at the Meadowlands or the Prudential Center. There’s a lot of interest in putting them some place where people will have a lot to do when they’re not watching hoops, and that’s why so many folks are intrigued by Mohegan Sun.
Also, everyone I talked to had good things to say about Albany, which, as Siena AD John D’Argenio told me, is a “good mid-major city” that fits in well with a good mid-major league like the MAAC.
Mark Reed, a vice president at Fairfield whose responsibilities include overseeing the athletic department, made a pitch for Bridgeport, saying that “if Bridgeport had the same number of chances already that Albany has had, I really believe that Bridgeport would be the favorite between the two.”
There are no official finalists or semifinalists, but were I to list the UNofficial semifinalists, I would certainly list Mohegan Sun, Albany and Bridgeport, with Mohegan Sun the most likely because of the aforementioned desire among a lot of the administrators to give a neutral site a shot.
Lastly, good job by fellow blogger Tom Cleary, who identified New Hampshire as a team from outside Massachusetts with multiple starters from the Bay State – a characteristic shared by Loyola, which also has a Bostonian for a head coach. As Tom pointed out in the comments section, he came up with the Wildcats during The Mirror’s gamecast of the Fairfield-Loyola game, but I had since left for the day and didn’t see it. My bad.
That’s it for me. Enjoy the PMI, and discuss away about the BracketBuster matchups, future tournament venues, or whatever else is on your mind.