ST. LOUIS (Missouri Basketball App) -- Sure, they’ve been playing games since early November, but it seems like the college basketball season actually gets started on Saturday when Missouri faces Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game. This is when the games finally start to get interesting.
Most major college teams like Missouri, Illinois and St. Louis U. fill their early schedule with cupcake opponents that have little or no chance of putting up a competitive fight. Missouri has played such juggernauts as Alcorn State, Nicholls State and South Carolina State. Saint Louis U. played a list of blood donors that included South Carolina Upstate, North Texas State and Eastern Illinois.
Illinois played the toughest non-conference schedule of the three, but still managed to schedule automatic wins against the likes of Colgate, St. Francis and Chaminade. I realize all the other power teams in the major conferences do the same thing, and that they need the victories to pad their NCAA tournament resumes, but it still makes for some pretty boring early season basketball.
It’s a shame the system has evolved in this way. Wouldn’t early season hoops be much more entertaining if Mizzou would agree to play St. Louis U. and Missouri State and some other non-conference teams that might create interesting match-ups?
The Illini and the Billikens could also create more interest in their programs if they did a better job of scheduling. It’s a shame that about one-third of the season is spent playing games the casual fan doesn’t care about. There have been some pretty small crowds at Mizzou Arena in Columbia and Chaivetz Arena in St. Louis through the first five weeks of the season. Who can blame the fans for saving their money until the games have meaning?