Nearly three weeks ago, I wrote that it was likely that the final early season event field of the 2011-12 campaign, one for the 2011 2K Sports Classic, more popularly known as the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, would be released while I was on vacation.
It's now mid-September, and while we know the four schools who will play in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden, Arizona, Mississippi State, St. John's, and Texas A&M, we still don't have the full roster of mid-major (and potentially Division 2) teams who will face that quartet in the early rounds. Those eight teams will then move on to a pair of four-team "subregionals."
After today, we arguably know more about the 2012 event than the one that begins in less than two months.There are some major changes in store for the event that has become college basketball's de facto opening act.
UPDATE #1 09/16: There was a lot of clarification after my post yesterday. I've kept the original content from yesterday in place, but added some updates that touch each of the individual points I mentioned. (Follow for more.)
For starters, you can continue to ignore the name "2K Sports Classic" as it will be replaced by a new corporate-friendly title, which hardcore hoops fans will also surely fail to use. Naming rights change all the time, so there's nothing really noteworthy about this information, but the other two moves announced today are fairly groundbreaking.
UPDATE #2 09/16: This is not true at all. According to the Gazelle Group who runs the 2K Sports Classic, the event will remain at Madison Square Garden for another nine seasons (through the 2020-21 campaign, which is shockingly not as far away as you'd like it to be). However, the beneficiary changes from the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Coaches vs. Cancer program to the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists service men and women who are seriously injured during wartime.
First up, the location. After 14 editions in venerable Madison Square Garden, the Coaches vs. Cancer event is moving across the East River to Brooklyn's new Barclays Center, which will be the home of the team currently known as the New Jersey Nets. That means the three early season events which centered on the New York City metro area will take place in three separate buildings, as the NIT Season Tip-Off's final two rounds will remain in the refurbished Garden and the Legends Classic will (most likely) continue to conclude at the Meadowlands.
UPDATE #3 09/16 and #6 09/30: So, instead of three events in three buildings, we have four events in three, as the
Wounded Warrior relocated Coaches vs. Cancer tournament is for all intents and purposes, a new one. (The NABC's release indicates that they're keeping the ownership of the Coaches vs. Cancer event's history; however, a September 30th e-mail from Ray Cella of the Gazelle Group indicates that the NABC's event will indeed be a new one.) There will still be college basketball at Madison Square Garden both before Thanksgiving and during the holiday week.
Yet a new site is nothing compared to the final change announced today, as the TV rights have gone from ESPN, which has aired the event for as long as I can remember, to Turner's TruTV. You know, the station no one knew they had until last year's NCAA Tournament. So, you'll need to find it in November of 2012, not just in March. (Marking that down in my day planner, now.) With Turner owning the event's media rights, it's possible TruTV could air some on-campus games as well, filling ESPNU's current role. Or, Turner could go all in and actually cover the two mid-major focused "subregionals," which often feature teams that could make noise in March, most likely online.
UPDATE #4 09/16: ESPN will continue to air the Wounded Warrior/MSG Gazelle-run event that begins the season, while the NABC decided to sell the media rights to the Coaches vs. Cancer event to Turner, which will take place at a date to be determined in Brooklyn.
Fans should be rooting for that option for this reason alone. The more games Turner covers during the regular season, the more polished its coverage in March will be.
With that piece of business out of the way, hopefully we'll finally know the full schedule for the 2011 edition of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic within the next few days (UPDATE #8 09/30: We do now.) You can check out the slate as it stands now on the 2011 Early Season Events page.
UPDATE #5 09/16 and #7 09/30: In short, the 2K Sports Classic will s
tart a new history continue in November of 2012 with a new beneficiary, while the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic is moving, picking up a new TV partner, and starting up a new history. Got it? Good.