Blog Entry

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

Posted on: December 8, 2010 2:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 2:19 pm
I've been asking -- begging is probably more accurate -- for an interesting event to start the college basketball season for a while now. Something different than, you know, Pittsburgh vs. Rhode Island, which is what we got this year. Nothing against Pittsburgh (or Rhode Island, for that matter). It's just that casual sports fans won't turn their attention to the start of the college basketball season for Panthers-Rams.

But they'll turn their attention for this (via's Andy Katz):
Four of the sport's top programs -- Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky -- have committed to create the Champions Classic, an early season marquee event debuting in 2011 and televised by ESPN. The first Champions Classic is set for Madison Square Garden in New York, with Duke facing Michigan State and Kentucky meeting Kansas on Nov. 15, 2011. Year 2 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta will see Michigan State vs. Kansas and Duke vs. Kentucky on Nov. 13, 2012. The third event, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, will have Michigan State playing Kentucky and Kansas playing Duke.
Yes, yes, yes!

And finally!

For too long this sport's season has started with a whimper, and most people never knew when or where it began, or with whom. Now everybody will know. ESPN has secured commitments from four of America's top programs, and the four schools will tip the next three seasons under one roof. Two will play each other, then the other two will play in a double-header format not unlike what I witnessed Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Each team will switch opponents each year for three years. So by the time this is over we will have experienced every possible combination of Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky, and that the games will happen in the context of a high-profile event should only make them more special.

So kudos to ESPN for making this happen. And hats off to Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bill Self and John Calipari for letting it happen. I haven't been this excited since Delta started adding Wifi on domestic flights. The Champions Classic is going to be epic. It's an event that's decades overdue, obviously. But as I type these words, it's less than a year away.


Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2010 11:14 pm


The only thing that would make Gary even more giddy is for Memphis to be added to the mix.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2010 1:30 pm

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

Probably because UNC is a .500 team these days...

Since: Jan 28, 2008
Posted on: December 9, 2010 11:01 am

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

I love what they're doing here.  Sometimes I get mad at ESPN for foisting guys like D*** Vitale on us fans, but this definitely helps make up for it.  As a UK fan I don't have any problem getting pumped for the start of BBall season every year, but this should elevate the sport a little nationally.  Plus those are some great choices for teams.  Sure they could have added some other guys, but this is a great, A+ lineup.

(insert derogatory comment about Duke here)

I would love to be at the game in Atlanta in 2 years.  Love.

Since: Jan 4, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:42 am

Way to go, ESPN!!

Such a made-for-TV event not only will announce the start of the basketball season with a big bang, but it will also elevate the status of the 4 teams in question head and shoulder above the rest in status and in recruiting.  I can imagine coaches using the line:  "you want to play for the best, you have 4 options".

I am so excited about this pre-season Final Four event!!!

Since: Jan 4, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:38 am

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

Of course, you had to be the loud obnoxious guy calling people names.  Get a life.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:46 pm

Playing the best makes a team better

The venues selected enhance recruiting for each program. The national exposure is good for business and the money trees. But the best reason to play these games is the competition. Playing the best only makes a team better. And these are among the very elite teams in the country. Sure there are deserving others being left out. But the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Big XII are each well represented. For these four, preparing for the NCAA Tournament is primary.

It is intriguing to consider how three programs recruiting and developing players to their own system will fare early in the season against Kentucky which effectively is conducting a whole rotation turnover each year. While Duke and Kansas have shown themselves willing to take one one-and-done player each year, Michigan State has traditionally eschewed this approach and Kentucky focuses on a whole starting lineup of these players. The beginning of the year format would seem to disadvantage Kentucky. On the other hand the opporunity to prepare for Kentucky is minimized as each year produces new dynamics.

The biggest winners are the fans who can anticipate these contests with relish while scoping out the potential Final Four contenders all in the same broadcast.

Since: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:39 pm

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

I am excited to see my Jayhawks included as a part of this event, and I look forward to taking on the Wildcats, Spartans, and Blue Devils over the next three years. Rock Chalk!

Since: Feb 15, 2009
Posted on: December 8, 2010 9:19 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 19, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2010 9:11 pm

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

Ed Cota, should have been the Heels instead of Michigan St.  I guess they didn't want two teams from the same conference, but if we're talking about the four truly elite teams, I think it's gotta be UK, Duke, Kansas, and UNC.

Since: Feb 5, 2008
Posted on: December 8, 2010 9:05 pm

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

I heard that this was in the works. I am estatic that they were able to make it a reality. It will a great way to kick off the season. I cant wait for the chance to get to kick Calipari's butt. Maybe UK will get lucky and run into Duke in the dance, but the odds are they wont meet till 2012.

"The Champions Classic" While I love the name, this will be just another reason for the haters(like stopnpop) to spew thier venom.

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