We are heading into the best time of the year in College Basketball as March is only a few days away. The fun truly begins March 2nd with the first rounds of the Big South, Horizon and Ohio Valley Conference Tournaments. Looking through the list of tourney sites, there are a couple of arenas hosting tournaments who do not have a main sports tenant. For those looking to catch a game at these arenas, this is your rare chance:
- Boardwalk Hall – Atlantic City, NJ (Atlantic Ten Championship)
I’ve actually been to Boardwalk Hall for last year’s A-10 Tournament and I really liked the arena. Nice location and even though the inside is a little oddly shaped for basketball, it was a nice place. Boardwalk Hall has been around since the 1920s, but underwent a major renovation and it’s good to see it still being used after an ECHL team moved out of town a few years ago. There are still a good number of boxing events hosted here.
- Sprint Center – Kansas City, MO (Bix XII Championship)
Probably the biggest arena and market with no anchor sports team. The pro-style arena cost $276 million and opened in 2007. It hosted an arena football team, but that is gone now that the league folded. Kansas City and college basketball have a lot of history (the cb hall of fame is even in the arena) and I know the Big XII likes to move their tournament around, but hopefully they make this a permanent stop.
- Anaheim Convention Center Arena – Anaheim, CA (Big West Championship)
The few times I’ve seen this arena on TV, it never seemed all that appealing to me, but when does an arena attached to a convention center ever blow you away? The Anaheim Arsenal of the NBDL used to play here, but have since moved. The Big West has been using this arena as host for awhile now and it makes sense to me with all of the California schools in the conference.
- Leonard E. Merrell Center – Katy, TX (Southland Championship)
This place is actually home to high school basketball at the Katy school district, but I wanted to highlight it here. Katy is a small town, but its actually a suburb of Houston. A couple of minor-league teams have played at the arena and folded, in the meantime I think it is a really nice facility for the conference. Great size (5,600) and location.
- Summit Arena – Hot Springs, AR (Sun Belt Championship)
Not to be confused with the Summit Arena in Nashville or the old Summit that hosted the Houston Rockets. It was nice that the Sun Belt moved from a home school (Lafayette’s CajunDome) to a more neutral site in Hot Springs. However, attendance always seems terrible at their championships.
I too love the conference tournament season, and was more than a little bummed when there was no tv coverage of the first round of the Big South, Horizon League, or OVC conference tournaments. The first Thursday of the Big Dance is always a treat, but it may be just as good to take off of work the Thursday before and get engulfed in tourney action.
I know…I finally have ESPNU and a lot of semifinal games with the small conferences are on there, instead of just seeing the final, so that is an improvement. Online coverage has exploded, all of the Big South games (www.channelsurfing.net) and Horizon games (HLN) were available for free last night! I agree the conference tourneys are underated a bit in how great they are. Next Thursday is fun and Friday is usually the best day with so many semis and qtrs going on along with a couple finals. Enjoy!