The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) was a darling of last season’s NCAA basketball tournament. The Panther defeated No. 1 Kansas in the second round and went to the Sweet Sixteen before bowing to Michigan State in that round.
Tonight, UNI hosts Wichita State in a Missouri Valley Conference game on ESPN. But here’s the kicker: the game starts at 9 p.m. central time. My question is this: who gave into ESPN to allow them to pick the 9 p.m. tipoff time? Was it the conference? Was it UNI? Was it UNI and Wichita State?
Didn’t UNI score enough points with the national basketball scene last year to deserve a better Saturday night start time? Is UNI desperate to be on ESPN?
I thought those 9 p.m. starts should go to the Mountain and Pacific Time Zone teams not some decent Midwest mid-major school.
Granted UNI isn’t having the amazing season the Panthers recorded last year. But when the games tips tonight, many people are usually thinking about getting their pjs on and relaxing before bed not attending a basketball game.
I feel for the fans. The locals are one case but think about the season ticket holders or general fans outside the Cedar Falls area. Many of those folks won’t get back to their residents before midnight or 1 a.m.
The fans could just not show up in protest of the start time. That would send a message to UNI and ESPN. UNI would get the message, but ESPN would probably just go down their list of schools dying for exposure at any time.