The worst kept secret in sports has finally become official: the first AAC Men’s Basketball tournament will be held in Memphis, TN. We can waste time bemoaning the fact that we’ve gone from competing with the toughest conference in the NCAA at Basketball Mecca to playing god knows who in the middle of nowhere. But at the end of the day, there’s no use crying over spilt milk.
I wanted to refrain on commentary until this became official (by the way, if you like irony, check out the official announcement made on bigeast.org). One of the positives is that the FedEx Forum is right off of historic Beale St. which offers a rich nightlife experience (I have heard).
While it is not geographically ideal for us, it also isn’t for most of the conference! Huzzah! Not counting the host school there are 9 other members. Fans from two schools are within a reasonable driving distance (Louisville is about 5 hours away and Cincinnati is 7). Fans from the general area of the other 7 schools (Temple, UConn, Rutgers, UCF, USF, Houston, SMU and Tulane) are all looking at flights or epic road trips. Luckily for students, that week typically falls into Spring Break (tourney is March 12-15), so maybe a good amount of them can make it over.
I’m a subscriber of the “when you try to please everyone, you please no one” school of thought, so the fact that most fans will have to take a plane to get to this seemingly equidistant location is a major detractor. They should have tried to do it in a location that would at least be convenient for a few of the conference members instead of just one, perhaps Philadelphia or even Tampa. Or, a neutral location would have been a good way not to give anybody an advantage; those options could have included Orlando, New Orleans (home of future member Tulane) or Indianapolis.
This problem isn’t going away; we’re losing Rutgers and Louisville then adding ECU, Tulane, Tulsa and I think University of Phoenix Online. There are basically four clusters of members: The Northeast (CT, Temple), Florida (USF, UCF), The South (SMU, Houston, Tulane), and the scrambled “mid-eastern-y” hodgepodge (Memphis, Cinci, ECU). I’m not sure what the solution is, but personally I’d love to see a major city like Atlanta, Washington DC or New Orleans in the interest of being as accessible/awesome as possible and developing a presence across the country.
Overall, though I’m not very pleased with this decision I will probably convince myself to go if anything to check out Memphis since I’ve heard good things about the BBQ and Beale St.
(By the way APR Scores are out. We made it!)