College Sports

December 20, 2013

TCU, SMU, UTA, UNT in Metroplex 4: Not so fast

Idea of a “Metroplex 4” basketball tournament faces resistance despite the fan appeal.

The idea seems to make sense and it’s something that UT Arlington coach Scott Cross has been advocating for the past few years. Why not have all four Metroplex teams play against each other in a round-robin format every year?

It could help create more interest in college basketball during the football season and draw bigger crowds for nonconference games with the area schools — TCU, SMU, North Texas and UTA — playing against each other.

Something like the “Metroplex 4” could help keep the college basketball buzz going after the Final Four arrives in Arlington in April.

“I just think it would be an outstanding event,” Cross said. “Any time you have two local schools playing against each other, you have the biggest crowds. They are just natural rivalries.”

Philadelphia area teams already do something along those lines with the city’s “Big 5” — Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Formed in 1955, the “Big 5” went on hiatus during the 1990s, but it has returned and remains a popular event in the Philly area.

It might be hard to see such a series taking off in the Metroplex. Cross and North Texas coach Tony Benford echoed each others’ thoughts on the positives that could come out of such an event.

“However you want to do it can be handled, but it would definitely draw a lot of interest,” Benford said. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I really haven’t talked to the other coaches about it, but it’s something that would be great for the Metroplex.”

Getting SMU and TCU on board, though, would be a hard sell. For them, there’s little to gain and everything to lose.

UTA or North Texas could gain a local recruiting edge if they beat SMU or TCU. A loss to a school from a weaker conference would also hurt their RPIs when it comes to possibly receiving a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

“I want to see all these programs do well and help them, but we’re trying to get into the NCAA Tournament,” SMU coach Larry Brown said. “We’re going to try and play every Big 12, SEC, the new Big East schools that we can to help our RPI and help our case to get in the tournament. I’m going to call Baylor every year. I’ll call A&M. I’d be fine playing one of them [smaller local schools] every year, but we’re worried about getting in the tournament.”

Brown pointed out that SMU has tried to play schools within the state every year in nonconference. The Mustangs played Texas State and Sam Houston State this year. They played at Texas State last year.

And SMU and TCU play against each other every year, including in November at the American Airlines Center in a tripleheader that opened the season.

But Brown just doesn’t see participating in an event like Cross envisioned as making sense for his team.

“I just don’t think it’s realistic for us,” he said.

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