Basketball

Postscripts: Mid-Week Big 12 Football, Plus Big 12 Hoops’ Strength Unmatched

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Central Florida

What’s going on in the Big 12 and beyond? I expand and explain every Sunday in Postscripts at Heartland College Sports, your home for independent Big 12 coverage.

This week, the football schedule is coming out soon, women’s basketball continue to try to rally the troops and the most competitive basketball conference in the country has … competition?

 

Mid-Week Games

Earlier this week we learned that the Big 12 Conference is anticipating playing more mid-week games than fans are used to for football season. Our Bryan Clinton did a piece on the pros and cons of a potential mid-week schedule.

To me, this is long overdue. I’ve done a couple of Thursday Big 12 games in my time here at Heartland, most notably a Thursday game between Baylor and West Virginia in Morgantown. Loved the atmosphere.

As Bryan noted, there is ground to be covered here for the Big 12. Think about it this way. Aside from Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend, the Big Ten and the SEC generally stay away from mid-week games. You may get a one-off here and there, but when it comes time for conference play the vast majority of those games are on Saturday.

Among power conferences, the ACC and the Pac-12 invested more in that mid-week space. The Pac-12 even had its own slot on Friday nights with Fox.

With the Pac-12 basically losing power conference status (we still see you Oregon State and Washington State), both FOX and ESPN need help on that night. For that matter, I think ESPN would love a Big 12 game on a Thursday rather than a MAC or C-USA game.

 

Bryan also made this point — the Big 12 now has massive inventory, up to eight league games per week. All of the bye weeks were wrapped up by October last season. I doubt the Big 12 wants two to three overlapping games on Saturday. Spreading them out makes sense, and it’s likely the reason the league stayed away from the space when it had just 10 teams. It was less of an issue.

If you’re worried about competition from the NFL on Thursday, don’t be. Mid-week games don’t do a ton when it comes to ratings. Those smaller schools do it to showcase their programs because there are some college football sickos out there who will watch every game.

The Big 12 wants every showcase it can get. Their games will draw eyeballs — not Saturday eyeballs — but enough eyeballs to make it worth it.

By the way, when doing this keep in mind that if you schedule a Friday night game in Texas those schools WILL take a hit at the game. Yes, this is college football. But Texas high school football is undefeated.

‘The Most Competitive Conference’

On Thursday the American Athletic Conference entered the chat about which basketball conference is the most competitive.

 

Yeah, so if one was looking for social media interaction, the AAC got it. Comments were not positive. You can read more here.

So how does one define competitive? I suppose that’s the real question here. I don’t think the AAC’s point was that it was better, just competitive within its league. I don’t watch any AAC basketball. My job is to watch the Big 12.

But, through Saturday’s play there were seven AAC teams with one or two league losses. That’s solid in a 14-team league. Everyone else is under .500 and five of those teams have two wins or fewer. Competitive at the top? Sure. But throughout? There’s quite a bit of separation.

Now, the Big 12. Seven teams .500 or better. The teams that are under .500? Five of the seven have won three league games. That alone tells me the conference is deeper.

So does the NCAA’s NET ratings. The Big 12 has 10 teams in the Top 50 of NET and 12 in the Top 75. The AAC has two in the Top 50 and five in the Top 100.

I’m sure there are many other ways to determine competitiveness. But what I see in the Big 12 is a deep, insanely competitive league (I wrote more about it after TCU’s triple overtime win over Baylor). What I see in the AAC is a league that is just top-heavy competitive.

Top-heavy is not competitive, let’s just put it that way. But enjoy that sweet, sweet social media engagement.

Feats of Strength

Here’s one minute of video of BYU’s mascot, Cosmo, doing something that I don’t believe I could do if my life depended on it.

New Bills Mafia challenge?

 

Women’s Basketball’s Push Continues

The work isn’t nearly over to put women’s college basketball on equal footing with the men. But it keeps nudging forward.

For instance, the new NCAA TV contract with ESPN puts a heavy emphasis on the women’s game and will likely include ‘performance units’ in payment for tournament play. If you’re not familiar with ‘performance units,’ that is money paid out to teams and conferences based on how their teams perform in March Madness. Here’s a nice primer if you need it. But those units are only in the men’s game. They’re not in the women’s game. Yet.

Here is Ole Miss women’s coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin to tell you why that’s important to an entire athletic program and other words on why women’s basketball is legit, in case you need to hear it.

Meanwhile, Texas women’s basketball fans are getting on the rest of its fan base for team support. The Longhorns may be without guard Rori Harmon for the rest of the season, but the Longhorns is still one of the best in the country, even with its loss to Oklahoma.

But fan turnout rankled the Longhorn Hellraisers the wrong way.

Women’s college basketball is on such a positive trajectory these days. It’s part of the reason I’m glad I get to cover both sides of it in the Big 12. My love for the women’s game goes back to covering the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks back in the 1990s, when they were a Top 25 team and going to Sweet 16s almost every year under Gary Blair.

Everyone should keep fighting to keep moving it forward.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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