For me, the best thing about living in the D.C. area is the fact I'm within reasonable driving distance of numerous Division I schools. This gives me a great opportunity to see quite a few games during the regular season, and even the postseason--as I think back to the four conference championship games I was lucky enough to witness in person back in 2008.
Now that we're two months away from the official start of the 2009-2010 college basketball season, I've been spending entirely too much time thinking about what games I plan to see in person during the (generally) non-conference portion of the year. Some of these plans are tentative (several games listed for that day should be a dead giveaway for that), while others, including my big trip for the year, are set in stone. I'll get into specifics after the jump.
My general philosophy on travel is "While I like to travel, I really don't." In other words, I like going places, but usually get pretty annoyed with the whole getting there piece of the process, either due to traffic, the joy of modern air transport, or Metro generally being a pain outside of rush hour at any time of day. So, I generally will pick games close to home on weeknights. (I'd love to go to more games in the Baltimore area, but Beltway and 95 traffic generally prevents this.) Weekends, I'll often travel further afield, particularly to Philadelphia and Richmond.
I also attempt to attend at least one multi-team event a year. Normally, I attend the Old Spice Classic, as it's close to my parents' home in Florida. 2009 will be a different story, as I have booked a trip West for the 76 Classic in Anaheim. A field that features eight potential NCAA teams was too good to pass up. Plus, I haven't been to California since I appeared on the teen version of a popular trivia game show back in the Bronze Age.
That will be an 11-day journey, including a side trip to Northern California at the beginning of the trip. I'll get to see a few games here in DC before I depart, and there will be plenty more hoops awaiting me on my return. Here's a look at what's ahead.
November 13 - Opening Night for the first full season of Blogging the Bracket as part of SBNation will take place at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, where George Mason will host Liberty (sans Duke transfer Seth Curry. I'm not sure that Opening Night of 2009 will quite match Opening Night 2008, when Craig Robinson brought his Oregon State team to Howard, mere days after his brother-in-law was elected President, and promptly lost to the Bison at the buzzer.
November 16 - The two-time defending champions of the Patriot League, American, opens their season against America East power Albany at Bender Arena.
November 17 - Defending Atlantic 10 tournament champion Temple visits Georgetown, who is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2008-09.
November 18 - I'm headed back to Bender Arena to see American take on 2008 Northeast Conference Champ (and 2009 runner-up) Mount St. Mary's.
November 26, 27, and 29 - The 76 Classic starts on Thanksgiving with an impressive quadrupleheader: Clemson-Texas A&M, West Virginia-Long Beach State, UCLA-Portland, and Butler-Minnesota. The semifinal round is set for Friday, with the final rounds on Sunday.
December 2 - I may take in George Mason's visit to the cozy Smith Center to take on George Washington upon my return.
December 5 - I have a few options for this Saturday. I could stay locally and see American's visit to Georgetown, head to Baltimore to see the MEAC battle between Coppin State and Morgan State, or head to Philly to take in a CAA tussle between Northeastern and Drexel or a battle of two "state-related" schools, Penn State and Temple.
December 8 - Dayton visits George Mason, in what could be the teams' second matchup in a matter of weeks. They're in the same half of the bracket at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
December 9 - Keno Davis' Providence side visits GW. I'm not sure that a win against the Colonials will look that good on the old resume, however.
December 12 - It's another big game at the Patriot Center. Creighton returns last year's BracketBusters game, a 76-63 Bluejays win.
December 19 - Exams mean a week with limited action. I'd like to see Gerald Lee and Old Dominion's visit to Georgetown. However, the game is at McDonough, meaning tickets could be impossible to get. I may head to Philly to see Bucknell visit LaSalle or Baltimore to see American and UMBC.
December 22 - The always entertaining VMI Keydets visit GMU.
December 27 - Since I won't get to see Isiah Thomas' first DC area visit (November 21 at American), I may head up to College Park to see Florida Atlantic visit Maryland.
January 3 - I will probably pass on attending a game on Saturday, January 2, as my alma mater, Florida, makes their only semi-local appearance that I can actually attend. The Gators visit NC State this Sunday.
Plans, except for the California trip, are as always subject to change. Expect more information on the conference portion of the year as the regular season unfolds.
In the meantime, I'm curious to hear about your own college basketball roadtrips for the coming year.