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May Madness: NCAA should get in on 3-on-3 trend

  • Ryan "Special Effects" Williams leaps over his cousin Sean Williams during the slam dunk contest Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003, in Harlem's Rucker park, in New York. Williams went on to win the contest. Street basketball players have traditionally been the stuff of urban legend- amazing small crowds at asphalt courts in cities across the country, but unseen and unknown by most. That's changing now, as the exploits of these raw talents with colorful nicknames catch the attention of television executives, writers, rappers and entrepreneurs. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) FRANK FRANKLIN II

  • Elijah Muldrow, a contestant in the slam dunk tournament now dubbed the Entertainer's Basketball Classic at Harlem's Ruckers park, makes an attempt at the basket in New York Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003. Street basketball players have traditionally been the stuff of urban legend- amazing small crowds at asphalt courts in cities across the country, but unseen and unknown by most. That's changing now, as the exploits of these raw talents with colorful nicknames catch the attention of television executives, writers, rappers and entrepreneurs. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) FRANK FRANKLIN II

  • A mural of free agent basketball player LeBron James wearing a New York Knicks jersey is seen on the Rucker Park basketball court in New York, Thursday, July 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig



@MattVautourDHG
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

May Madness?
On Friday, the International Olympic Committee announced that 3-on-3 basketball would be part of the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Later this month, the Big3, a new professional 3-on-3 league, will debut.

The NCAA should jump on board. Not a full season. Just two weekends.

Here’s the plan:

One May weekend would be conference tournaments. Every league in the country could host at a single location, probably men and women at the same place. Round-robin games followed by a knockout round.

Two weeks later is the NCAA championship. Only teams that win their automatic bid make it. It could be double-elimination there too with winners’ brackets and losers’ brackets.

Somebody will have to come up with a creative way to fairly seed the teams with no regular season.

No seniors. Whether it’s the NBA, the D-League or overseas, most seniors are preparing for professional careers.

With that in mind, players who sat out as redshirts or transfers could be eligible.

It should be a top assistant, not the head coach, leading a team. There’s no way Coach K or Jim Boeheim wants to coach in this event anyway, so let some assistants on the rise get the spotlight.

Each team has four players. Three on the court and one sub.

The games should be outdoors with an indoor facility available in the event of bad weather.

They can be on campus, but it would be even better to play at some legendary blacktop. Imagine the Big East Tournament at Rucker Park in New York, or the Pac 12 at Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The Naismith memorial Basketball Hall of Fame could host the Atlantic 10 in its parking lot while debuting a new exhibit on playground ball’s contributions to basketball.

Between ESPN’s on-air and digital properties, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports, FS1 & FS2 and the countless regional sports networks around the country there is a lot of airtime to fill. This would draw better ratings than either college baseball or softball do.

Networks get a pretty good product and schools get a little added revenue for their athletic departments.

Some of the top players whose schools are eliminated early could take part in a H.O.R.S.E. contest.

There’d be good opportunities to hold events around the events.

The Big3 would almost certainly host exhibitions or clinics at the championship event to get some exposure and attention.

There’s money to be made. In addition to TV money and ticket sales, there are tons of sponsorship opportunities.

Food trucks would flock. Sneaker and apparel companies could unveil new products in the adjoining fanfest tent, which would host a video game tournament and memorabilia sales.

Sports and energy drinks could debut new flavors.

It would be a festival meets outdoor basketball trade show.

Overall it’d be great for the game. One of the criticisms of college basketball in the past decade is that every year fans have to connect with a new set of stars. Players who stand out in May Madness would instantly have some recognizability when the season starts in November.

Mostly it’s just fun.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage