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.”
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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.
Three games to watch
With the holiday break, Saturday is a big day. Here’s a nicely timed tripleheader option:
Georgetown at Kansas (11 a.m., ESPN): The Jayhawks have gone almost a month since playing a game in the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse. Georgetown enters on a six-game winning streak, but this will be its first true road game. This has all the makings of a big-time game between marquee teams.
Michigan State at Texas (3 p.m., KTVT/11): Can Texas pull off its second consecutive upset? The Longhorns shocked a lot of people with their 86-83 victory at North Carolina on Wednesday and will be looking to hand the Spartans their second loss of the season.
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado (10:30 p.m., ESPN2): A matchup of two top-25 teams that will go down at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Oklahoma State has the talent to win it all this season, and Colorado is gaining confidence with a home win over Kansas and a road win over Colorado State.
Projecting the top seeds
The top-ranked team in the country is undefeated and already has wins over Duke, San Diego State and UNLV. Juniors T.J. McConnell and Nick Johnson give the Wildcats experience in the backcourt, and freshman sensation Aaron Gordon has lived up to the hype.
The Orange has gotten off to an impressive start and should make an immediate impact in its inaugural ACC season. C.J. Fair is one of the best big men in the country, and freshman Tyler Ennis has excelled at point guard.
Midwest: Michigan State
Based on the rankings right now, this could easily be Ohio State. But it’s hard not to think the Spartans will wind up as a No. 1 seed come March. They are the most experienced team in the country, and this month’s home loss to North Carolina will become a footnote by season’s end.
The defending national champions should have a résumé worthy of a one-seed by the end of the season, as they try to make a third consecutive Final Four. The Cardinals have gotten solid play out of their backcourt of Russ Smith and Chris Jones, and sophomore Montrezl Harrell has become a post presence
Jan. 4 — Big 12 conference play begins
March 16 — Selection Sunday
March 18-19 — First-round (Dayton)
March 20, 22 — Second-third rounds (Buffalo, Orlando, Milwaukee, Spokane)
March 21, 23 — Second-third rounds (Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis)
March 27, 29 — South Regional (Memphis) and West Regional (Anaheim)
March 28, 30 — Midwest Regional (Indianapolis) and East Regional (New York)
April 5 — National semifinals (Arlington)
April 7 — Championship (Arlington)