A hoop kegger — sorry, So Cal, you’ve been (dis)carded

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That, of course, is a photo of the Marathon Brewery Wee Willy basketball team — brothers Joe, Wally, Alex and Frank Szymanski in the first row, brothers Ray and Ed Szymanski in the second row along with Larence Wenzel, Bob Uekert and Bill Fischer. They won more than 500 games during the 1940s and ’50s representing Marathon City, Wisc.

If only ESPN could schedule them for their upcoming “Tip-Off Marathon.” Along with the guarantee of a few extra kegs in the deal.

ESPN, which can pretty much dictate to any school when its basketball games will be played, has decided to turn it up to 11 and give eveyrone a spinal tap of roundball that may only make Dick Vitale’s heath situation go from mellow yellow to code red on the color-bar chart.

The world wide leader announced today that its “Tip-Off Marathon” will air over 23 hours live starting at 9 p.m. on Nov. 17 (after a Cleveland-Buffalo “Monday Night Football” telecast) and end … well … 23 hours later, of course. With 33 total hours covered.

You know, it’s just crazy enough to work. And you know someone with a blog and too much time on their hands will try to watch the whole thing and document it minute by minute (sorry, boss, it ain’t happening on this end).


The whole kabootle will include 14 games — none involving USC, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, Biola, Azusa Pacific, Cal Poly Pomona, San Diego State, UC San Diego, the University of San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo … who are we leaving out? Right, all of ‘em.

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Starting at 9 p.m. with Memphis hosting UMass (it’s John Calipari, coach of the former, against the school he used to work for), includes and ends at 6 p.m. on Tuesday with Kentucky-North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. There’s even a women’s game thrown in (Iowa-Kansas) and a few NIT contests.

Nine games are on ESPN, including five in a row starting at 7 a.m. (PDT). Five different time zones will be covered. There are 14 conference schools included (none from the Pac-10 … did we already mention that?)

Here’s how it lays out:
Monday, Nov. 17:
9 p.m.: UMass at Memphis (ESPN)
11 p.m.: Fresno St. at St. Mary’s (ESPN) (yes, an 11 p.m. tipoff Pacific Standard Time)

Tuesday, Nov. 18:
1 a.m.: Idaho St. at Hawaii (ESPN) (with an 11 p.m. tipoff Hawaii time, meaning it airs at 4 a.m. in the East — how daft!)
3-7 a.m.: College Hoops Tip-Off Special (ESPN)
7 a.m.: Penn at Drexel (ESPN) (meaning, tip off is at 10 a.m. East Coast time … you know any college kid awake before noon on a weekday?)
9 a.m.: Liberty at UNC-Asheville (ESPN) (that’s noontime in the East)
11 a.m.: Iowa at Kansas women’s game (ESPN)
1 p.m.: Centenary at Baylor (ESPN)
3 p.m.: Richmond at Syracuse (ESPN)
4 p.m.: NIT Regional Final from Purdue’s campus (ESPNU)
4:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final from Boston College’s campus (ESPN2)
5 p.m.: “College GameDay” from Chapel Hill, N.C. (ESPN)
6 p.m.: Kentucky at North Carolina (ESPN) (wanna guess if Vitale will be here?)
6 p.m.: Florida Gulf Coast at Kansas (ESPNU)
6:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final from Oklahoma’s campus (ESPN2)
8:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final from Arizona’s campus (ESPN2)

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A story in today’s USA Today (linked here), where all this info was leaked a day early — hey, gotta give ESPN PR people for getting the word out in a national publication first before letting it trickle down to everyone else — ESPN programmer Ilan Ben-Hanan (a USC grad, no less) said to get this all aligned, it had to convince the University of Kentucky to juggle its schedule, including moving a game against Coppin State from this season to next.
Screw ‘em. Coppin State, you’re in the way. Move.
“By no means would we pressure anybody” to take a crazy tip-off time, Ben-Hanan also says. Sure, Hawaii and St. Mary’s and Drexel had no issues with inconveniencing anyone in charge of turning the gym lights on or off those days.
Just make sure the crowd has plenty of sleeping bags ready for distribution at halftime.

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