Imagine my glee when I turned on ESPN last night at midnight and found myself witnessing the opening tip of Massachusetts and Memphis.
ESPN, which has authored many failed ideas and gimmicks in the past, has found something that works in its Tip-Off Marathon, which amounts to a full day of college basketball on its family of networks.
Following the Memphis game (which the Tigers pulled away from the Minutemen to win by 22), coverage of Fresno State-St. Mary's and Hawaii-Idaho State kept the Worldwide Leader in Sports busy with college hoops until 6 a.m. The action continues until tonight's battle in Chapel Hill between top-ranked North Carolina and Kentucky.
In the past, college basketball has always eased itself into the sports consciousness at the beginning of its year. A notable preseason tournament, such as the Preseason NIT, has always kicked off coverage, but with other preseason tournaments popping up around the country like popcorn, their impact has been diluted a bit.
To solve the problem, and create a opening ticket which people can get excited about, ESPN introduces 24 hours of basketball heaven, which opened in Memphis with the (should have been) National Champions and closes in Chapel Hill with the (everyone is assuming will be) National Champions.
Also, the pitch of a game between the two winningest schools in college basketball history, even despite Kentucky's well-documented struggles, makes ESPN's project even more successful.
After months of college basketball-induced starvation, it's fantastic to have the chance to watch basketball anytime you want. It kind of gives you the feeling that it's March again, and you can't get away from college basketball—even if you tried.
So props to ESPN for satisfying our basketball appetites.