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Matt Vautour: Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off was good, it could be better

From a basketball standpoint, Sunday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip-Off was terrific. Three competitive games between at least five teams expected to be good (except Holy Cross) in their respective conferences, two rivalry games, all coming on the Patriots’ bye week.

But it could have been a better event.

It will happen again next year with the same three matchups — Boston University vs. Northeastern, UMass vs. BC, Harvard vs. Holy Cross — at TD Garden. It can be better the second time around. Here’s how:

e_STnSEmbrace the connection to Coaches vs. Cancer. A portion of the gate went to the American Cancer Society and of course that’s a good thing. But they could do a lot more at a minimum cost.

A little more ceremony is in order. Before each game bring out a cancer survivor from each school for a ceremonial tipoff. Perhaps some prominent cancer doctor/researcher could throw up the ball. It’s inspiring. It makes for a nice photograph and probably even sells a few more tickets.

With tickets not selling out. How about free admission for any kid fighting cancer at a Massachusetts hospital? Their families could still buy tickets and they’d all pay for concessions. Everybody wins.

Sell T-shirts. How hard would it be to make a cheap T-shirt with an outline of the state surrounded by logos for each of the six schools involved as well the Coaches vs. Cancer logo? Sell them for $10 or $15 with all profits going to the American Cancer Society. People would buy one just to help the cause.

Selling programs or scorecards wouldn’t hurt either. BC does not have names on the back of its jerseys. If a fan came in wanting to get interested in college hoops, there was no way to tell who was who on the Eagles roster.

During some breaks in action, why not have public service announcements about what Coaches vs. Cancer is, what it does and how people can get involved?

e_STnSCreate an all-event team or a most outstanding player. It’s not a tournament, but still why not? There were performances worth honoring.

e_STnSMake fans compete against each other. In the weeks leading up to the game, why not see which school can have the most successful blood drive, canned food drive, toy drive or clothing drive. The winning school’s students get pizza before the game.

MY TOP 10 — 1. Kentucky, 2. Michigan State, 3. Duke, 4. Kansas, 5. Arizona, 6. Louisville, 7. Oklahoma State, 8. Syracuse, 9. Michigan, 10. Ohio State.

For the rest of my Top 25 visit the College Hoop Week Guide on GazetteNET’s UMass Sports Blog.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: The State Farm Champions Classic, Tuesday in Chicago: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. and No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 4 Duke, 9:30 p.m. — Maybe the best November doubleheader ever. It would be almost surprising if at least two of these teams didn’t make the Final Four. If the games themselves aren’t worthy enough, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kentucky’s Julius Randle are all consensus top five picks in next year’s NBA draft. These are the jewels in one of the best slate’s ESPN has ever created for its day-long celebration of the start of basketball season.

ATLANTIC 10 GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth at No. 25 Virginia, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2 — Starts 30 minutes before Michigan State and Kentucky. Worth peaking in at during commercials.

QUOTABLE — “He is Indiana basketball. We all get fired. It happens. To me, his legacy there outweighs that. And it’s not like any of us are getting any younger.” Pat Knight in USA Today about trying to convince his father, Bob Knight, to return to Indiana for a game.

ON THE ROAD TO ... A Final Four filled with heavyweights. Smaller schools have made big gains in recent years, but most of college basketball’s traditionally elite teams are loaded and figure to be still standing deep into March.

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

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

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