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Monday, January 17, 2005

Devil of a schedule

ESPN's Andy Katz on Duke's favorable schedule:

"So when exactly does Duke play at one of the potential favorites for the ACC title? Not until Duke goes to Wake Forest on Feb. 2. Duke also visits Maryland on Feb. 12, Georgia Tech on Feb. 23 and will close the season at North Carolina on March 6. Clearly, the Blue Devils caught a break in their schedule......But is the early-season schedule luck? Is it just coincidence that Duke opened against Clemson the last four seasons?"

No, Katz says. Duke plays the best teams in the ACC on the road, later in the ACC season, because "that's when the ACC television partners want the high-profile, highly-anticipated, and usually highest-rated games." Needless to say, the Duke Carolina game is given preferential treatment every season.

That makes sense. It was a hard decision to make yesterday between State-Georgia Tech and Patriots-Colts. No doubt many chose the NFL playoffs over college hoops, Fortunately for everyone, the Wake-Carolina game was at 1:30, before the playoffs started.

It doesn't help (or hurt) matters any that Duke is the ACC's highest-rated television team, even when they aren't playing Carolina. So when the ACC's TV partners select their games each season, Duke is always on top. So they're going to get the easier opponents early in the season.

Foul, cries Clemson coach Oliver Purnell:

"I understand the importance of the ratings, but at the same time there needs to be some equitable competitiveness as well....Let's face it, we don't want to open with the best team in the league every year. That's the bottom line. I want to take this to the AD level and talk about it and consider moving it around."

So does Maryland's Gary Williams:

"The year we won the national title, Duke-Carolina was still the ultimate game. It's always the last ACC game. It makes every other team in the league look secondary. That's what I object to. Whoever is good should get publicity."