Brian: The Beanpot Tournament obviously generates a lot of excitement about college hockey in Boston. But why should college hockey (and to a lesser extent, college baseball) have all the fun? On Monday, the Herald ran an article posing the question, why not a Basketball Beanpot?
"In conversations with the coaches of the six Division 1 programs in Massachusetts - the four Beanpot schools, UMass and Holy Cross - it's clear each would welcome a local basketball tournament.
"I would certainly be in favor of anything like that," Harvard's Tommy Amaker said. "I think this is a great community for it, a great town, and there's a number of schools that would generate some kind of energy and interest."
So what do you think of this idea, Jeff? You playing the good cop or bad cop for this idea?
Jeff: I will play GDF for the one also known as the bad cop. Coach Donahue might love this idea or he might not but publicly he'd say he loves it. GDF however does not and will not love this idea. What does BC have to gain by playing in such a tournament?
We play UMass every season in alternating venues. Lately, we've played Harvard at home every year. Northeastern and Boston University would also always be a home game for us. Holy Cross we've played on the road in recent memory but renewing a series with them would also mean mostly home games I would imagine. So playing these schools in basketball in a tournament at a neutral site would cost us some home games. GDF could use that point publicly to get out of such a tournament.
The real reason he would want out though would be because BC has nothing to gain by playing in such a tournament. BC fans are not going to get real excited about it. But more importantly, the tournament can only hurt BC's chances of making the Dance. If BC wins it, they only won games they should have and perhaps even hurt its RPI by playing such a weak strength of schedule depending on the year and who BC draws as opponents. Then, if BC loses, it would hurt its RPI even more. BC just has nothing to gain by agreeing to such a tournament in basketball.
Brian: I will play the Good Cop on this one. I think this could be great for Boston college basketball and could give a boost not only to BC, but also to other Boston-area programs. The key is in the format that a Basketball Beanpot Tournament would take.
One of the great things about the hockey Beanpot is the tournament's exclusivity. You don't see UMass-Amherst, UMass-Lowell or Merrimack invited to the Beanpot, do you? Of course not. It's a city of Boston event that annually puts city-wide college hockey bragging rights on the line. If a basketball Beanpot were to be successful, you'd have to go for the same city-only invitational and tell Holy Cross, UMass to stay home. Holy Cross has been terrible the last 2 years or so, and Amherst is further from Boston than programs like UConn and URI.
With a four team field, you would schedule the semifinal matchups to mirror the annual matchups in the men's hockey Beanpot. (Next year, that means BC-Northeastern and BU-Harvard, which would likely set up a nice BC-Harvard Championship Game). And unlike hockey, you don't have to wait a full week between rounds. You could easily play a four game tournament over 3-4 days. Say a Wednesday - Saturday or Thursday - Sunday set up. Hell, you could probably even have games on back-to-back nights like some of the holiday tournaments.
BC might not have a whole lot to gain from playing in this tournament, but what's the harm if these two games replace the St. Francis (NY), Bryants and NJITs on the Eagles' annual sched? A loss to Boston University or Northeastern wouldn't impact BC's RPI and SOS nearly as much as a loss to Bryant or NJIT would. The other thing is that because BC is guaranteed to play two of Boston's other DI programs, GDF can put an end to the annual Harvard series since the Eagles would likely play the Crimson about every other year.
Finally, if a four-team tournament like became even one-third as successful as the hockey version, it might just generate some buzz and excitement about college basketball in Boston. Think: a poor man's Philadelphia's Big 5, a tournament the Donahue is very familliar with. And who knows? Perhaps this tournament generates sufficient buzz with local kids that it allows BC or the other three Boston-area programs to get local, star recruits to play closer to home.