Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports
Forget the triple header at the Garden. It's time for the Massachusetts Big 6.
According to Mark Blaudschun, Boston College officials are working with school officials at Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern, UMass and Holy Cross to create a college basketball day in Boston next season. The event would be an early season triple header at the Garden involving those six programs. The schools would play each other on a rotating basis each year.
Blaudschun cites this kind of "innovative scheduling" as a way to improve on sparsely attended Boston College home games at Conte Forum.
I like this idea of playing these schools more frequently. Hate the execution.
For one thing, a college hoops triple header among these six programs is no more likely to be a success at the gate than if these games were played on campus. After BC sold out Conte Forum when hosting a ranked Harvard team last season, this year's Eagles-Crimson game drew just 3,128. Last year's BC-Holy Cross game drew just 3,071 at the DCU, while BC-UMass drew 4,162 at Conte. This year's BU-Northeastern season opener at Matthews brought in just 3,242. You get the idea.
Putting these games at the Garden and away from campus will do little to improve these attendance figures. There simply isn't enough star power to get fans to come out in droves to the Garden. Boston College is close or already has hit bottom as a program. Harvard has fallen back down to earth a bit this year playing with a suspension-depleted roster. Holy Cross' best athletic days are now behind them and UMass, Boston University and Northeastern haven't been anything special either.
You'd probably sell 10k tickets to the triple header, but 1-2k would watch the first matchup between Northeastern and Holy Cross, 2-3k the second game between UMass and Boston University and maybe 5k for the nightcap between BC and Harvard. Why play in front of 5k at the Garden when you can play in front of your own student section on campus?
If BC and these five programs really want to work on improving marketing and attendance, they should forget the Garden and look at the Philadelphia Big 5 as a possible scheduling model.
The Philadelphia Big 5 is a yearly competition where the five Division I-A basketball programs from Philadelphia -- La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova. The five programs play a round-robin schedule to determine a city-wide champ. Most of the games are played on campus.
Most of these six Massachusetts programs play each other every year anyway. Why not formalize a similar Philadelphia Big 5 event as a yearly battle for Bay State hoops supremacy? It wouldn't have nearly the tradition of the Philadelphia Big 5, but could go a long way towards making these non-conference hoops matchups a bit more meaningful.
For Boston College, in order for this to work, the program would have to find room for 2-3 more non-conference games against BU, Northeastern and UMass. The Eagles already play Holy Cross and Harvard annually. It could work, but with three games in the non-exempt holiday tournament, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and every program looking to maximize the number of home games a year, could prove difficult.