Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is playing Tar Heels that much worse?

Florida International does not want to face North Carolina, the defending national champion, in the first round of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. It has even gotten its legal department involved to try to get out of the game.

But is playing Ohio State — the opponent FIU says it was supposed to face — that much better? Really?

Yes, the Tar Heels boast one of the top recruiting classes in the country, return some experience from the title team and are already being predicted a pre-season top 5 team.

But OSU's team isn't too shabby, either. The Buckeyes return five starters from a squad that went 22-11 last season -- including Evan Turner, who led the Big Ten in scoring.

So for FIU, a minor mid-major that has quite a few holes to fill under new coach Isiah Thomas, the opponent swap is probably the difference between losing by 25 (or more) and 15 (or more). In traveling 828 miles to Chapel Hill rather than 1,150 to Columbus.

In getting a few extra fans to tune into the matchup, which will mark Thomas' debut as FIU's head coach, rather than flip the channel.

There's no doubt the Gazelle Group, organizer of the tournament, flipped the match-up because of potential ratings. It's what it should have done. That's its job.

The only surprising thing is that FIU didn't expect it when it hired Thomas as coach.

Athletics director Pete Garcia (a former assistant coach to North Carolina football coach Butch Davis at Miami) is apparently trying to stand up for the little guy, saying that a national program such as Duke or UNC wouldn't have its opponent so rudely swapped (even if the contract allows it).

But didn't that just happen to North Carolina, too? And the Tar Heels aren't complaining.

Plus, they have to play the Buckeyes in the semifinals of the tournament, too.

-- Robbi Pickeral


Anonymous said...

who cares, it's FIU, i couldn't care less.

Anonymous said...

Even if you don't like the Tar Heels this is still a great story because Thomas has folded a complete basketball league, ran the Knicks in the ground, and Called Larry Bird only good for a White Guy.. Can you believe this guy keeps getting a job.

MichaelProcton said...

Umm...UNC is no bigger a ratings draw nationally than is tOSU. Fans of the teams involved will watch those top 25 teams stop a crappy opponent; nobody else will give a damn.