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Tip-Off Marathon Gives Some Chance to Shine, But Could Leave Fans Wanting

Ray McCallum with Detroit and Valparaiso will each be featured in the ESPN tip-off marathon. But did one team make out better than the other?
Ray McCallum with Detroit and Valparaiso will each be featured in the ESPN tip-off marathon. But did one team make out better than the other?

I am pretty sure that I am taking November 13th off of work.

That is the opening tip-off, 24 hour marathon of basketball on the ESPN family of networks. The full schedule for the event was released today, but it left some wanting more.

The biggest issue this season seems to be that only one game will be happening at a time, leaving some gaps later in the day. But there are hidden flaws in the set that you would guess could have been addressed with the weight of ESPN behind it.

The full schedule after the jump:

Midnight: West Virginia at Gonzaga
2 a.m.: Davidson at New Mexico
4 a.m.: Houston Baptist at Hawaii
6 a.m.: Stony Brook at Rider
8 a.m.: Northern Illinois at Valparaiso
10 a.m.: Harvard at Massachusetts
12 p.m.: Temple at Kent State
2 p.m.: Detroit at St. John's
4 p.m.: Butler at Xavier
7 p.m.: Michigan State vs. Kansas (Champions Classic, Georgia Dome, Atlanta)
30 minutes following MSU/KU: Duke vs. Kentucky (Champions Classic)

At first glance, the schedule isn't terrible. Gonzaga begins with a game that should pose both a challenge and pump up its profile for the NCAA committee. Harvard and UMass will light up the morning in Boston, and Detroit has a chance to showcase Ray McCallum, Jr. later in the day.

But there are gaps in everyone's attention span.

Do we really think that Houston Baptist and Hawaii is a strong enough draw to keep television crowds interested at 4 a.m.? Stony Brook and Rider offer another struggle for fans.

And it is hard to forget that Northern Illinois was one of the bottom 20 teams last season, and will be facing a stacked Valparaiso team that should contend in the Butler-less Horizon.

While the Crusaders offer the best chance to cover one of the marathon contests live, it isn't going to be breaking the box office.

I can't help but wonder what the schedule would have looked like had the Colonial Athletic Association been an option for the schedule. The conference put together a new television contract with NBC in the offseason, and subsequently pulled out of ESPN's other premier event, Bracket Busters. The games were not available for the tip-off marathon, an event that in the past featured the likes of Drexel to pad the early morning slate.

Any of the Colonial teams still remaining could have meant a step up in the middle of the day. Selfishly, a game with the Dragons at midday would have been a big boost. Think of it as continuing the narrative from last season. Here was a team that was ditched for the NCAA Tournament likely because of its schedule.

A game against anyone decent would have provided at least 20 minutes of chat for the announcers, elaborating on the problems with exposure and scheduling that a team like Drexel faces.

I understand that every game isn't available for events like these, but there are choices that make a lot more sense than showing off Northern Illinois.

There is a chance that Murray State could land a game with the Crusaders, a game that offers a myriad of reasons to favor it over a game with the Huskies, not the least of which is Ed Daniel's hair. Couldn't ESPN exert a little of its influence to make that happen?

This isn't implying that scheduling this type of thing is easy, nor that everything can work perfectly all the time, but the games with the mid-major teams do leave a little to be desired, with only Detroit and Gonzaga scoring contests that should truly push them forward come March.

Then again, I will still be watching.

So tell us, which games are the best bets for the mid-majors during the marathon, and which ones would you like live accounts from?