Play more of the games on campus
In 2023, men's college basketball drifted further than ever from what makes it special. It's time to go back
On Monday, Kansas and North Carolina announced the signing of a two-year home and home series. In 2024-25 — which seem like high numbers, like they should be a very long time away, but which are really just the season after next — UNC will travel to Lawrence, and the glory that is Allen Fieldhouse, for just the second time in both programs’ illustrious histories. The following season, 2025-26, when I will be approximately 112 years old, KU will play in Chapel Hill for the first time ever. Cool, right? Right. Very cool.
And it would be easy to leave it there: Some fun, far-off scheduling news to be happy about for the moment and forget about entirely until, like, 15 months later.
Except that what Kansas and North Carolina did Monday was actually a really big deal, conceptually and culturally, an unusual and high-profile piece of leadership on an issue that has for far too long now pocked college basketball: They decided to play each other on campus. This doesn’t happen nearly enough. Indeed, it’s happening less than ever before. It’s now happening so infrequently that it feels a like a crisis.
For the good of the sport — not just for the die-hard fans and students on campus but for the salience of college basketball as a thing beyond three weeks in March — it needs to happen a whole lot more.
True story: In terms of sheer games played, 2023 was the worst year for nonconference home-away fixtures in modern college hoops history. We know this because I asked Ken Pomeroy to peer into his database and see if he could divine the percentage of neutral site nonconference games over time. He could and he did, because he’s cool. The numbers are kind of crazy.
Here is the table for all nonconference games, which is a not-insignificant sample size. We’re talking about 2,000 such contests most years, because Division I is a big hairy mess.
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