Monday, June 17, 2013

A Modest Proposal: Mid-Major Madness

Beginning June 17,  a series of  articles titled "A Modest Proposal" will be appearing every other Monday. The dates are June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, September 9, September 23, October 7, and October 21. The ten part series will include ideas for ways to increase attention to the SoCon, Mocs basketball, NCAA basketball, or mid-major basketball. This is part one. Here's a link to all the articles.

ESPN announced last winter that BracketBusters would not be continued past 2012-13. People had all kinds of reactions to this. Some praised it, saying that BracketBusters just hurt the losers and did not help the winners. Others were upset about it, saying that BracketBusters helped mid-major programs schedule semi-quality opponents, home-and-home.

There were rumors that something else would come up sparked by this quote in the linked article by ESPN:

"We'll continue to work with our conference partners to develop new, creative events to further grow the sport. Our goal is to maintain the BracketBusters brand in some fashion in the future."

Ummm....OK. So where is this "creative event" to maintain the "BracketBusters brand"?

The one thing we all agree on is that the mid-majors could use a high profile event on their schedule early in the season. So here is a new solution that could be a start to the answer to this problem.

I don't know how to pull this off. My main problem? I don't know where you schedule the event that I am talking about. Where does it get played that people would actually show up? I'm not sure. I also know that all of these conferences do not have deals with the same networks. That's a problem. I'm not sure how this gets done with that being the case. I don't care. Let's try to get it done. There are plenty of smart people out there that can figure this out.

There are quite a few mid-major conferences willing to participate in something like. To start things off, we need to narrow down what conferences are participating to just sixteen conferences.

Those conferences are the Patriot, America East, Northeast, Metro Atlantic, Southern, Big South, Atlantic Sun, Colonial, Horizon, Ohio Valley, Mid Eastern Atlantic, Southwest Athletic, Big West, Big Sky, Southland, and Summit. (If anyone wants to argue about who should participate, that's not really the point. The point is- sixteen mid-major conferences.)

Each of those conferences will pick one team to represent them. A particular team is only allowed to participate once every four years, just like any other exempt tournament.

The conferences are pre-divided up into four "regions." It's not 100% based on geography, but it is mostly. The conferences in the "regions" will rotate hosting the four team tournaments over a four year period. So each conference will get to host a four team tournament once every four years.

I think that the "Final Four" of this tournament could be a really compelling and deserves a big stage. But I don't know where you play it that people would actually be able to attend. I do think that when you play this in early to mid-November, you can attract some attention. It will give quality games to each team participating in the tournament. If ESPN, or whatever network, promoted this heavily, it could be a really big deal.

Each team at each site would play two games, including at the Final Four. It could be branded Mid- Major Madness and attract fanfare to mid-majors. It would be in the middle of football season, but could get people interested, because of March- much like Feast Week garners attention. Putting the focus on this tournament (at least the Final Four portion) as a way to see what teams could be Cinderella in March would get some people's attention- even in the midst of football season.

Also helping it would be the consistent rivalry between conferences. The winner of each "region" would have bragging rights over the other conferences in their region.

Here are the regions:

Region 1:
America East

Region 2:
Big South
Atlantic Sun

Region 3:

Region 4:
Big West
Big Sky

I'm curious to hear other people make suggestions for ways to improve this, because I do think there are ways to improve it. I just think there needs to be a discussion about ways to make sure that mid-majors get more coverage now that BracketBusters are going away.

If you have any ideas, feel free to share them with me privately ( or in the comments. Let's get this conversation started.

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