On August 12, ESPN announced their annual Tip-Off Marathon games for this upcoming college basketball season. If you haven't watched the Tip-Off Marathon it is 24 hours of non-stop basketball action. As a college basketball fan, you get to see the best of best teams like Duke or Kansas and you get to see that small upcoming teams such as Florida Gulf Coast and La Salle.
If you haven't taken a look at this year's field you see a lot of mid-majors. The mid-majors you will see in this marathon are Western Kentucky, Wichita State, Akron, Saint Mary's, New Mexico State, Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle, and VCU. All of these teams made a big impact in college basketball last season and are getting rewarded for their great play by being telecast on the ESPN family of networks.
Going to back to the title of this article, this marathon is good because these teams and schools get exposure. They get athletic and academic exposure. The athletic exposure is because the teams are playing and get to give the NCAA tournament selection committee an early view of themselves. The academic exposure is these schools get to run their commercials about their schools on national TV that helps the school tremendously and it shows the schools in good light.
When you look at the mid-majors competing in this marathon Wichita State, La Salle, and Florida Gulf Coast stood out to me the most and all three schools took major steps as programs in college basketball. Oddly enough two out of these teams took on each other in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles and Wichita State had defeated La Salle. But for the Shockers, this brought them into the realm of college basketball because since they were playing in the Missouri Valley Conference. College basketball fans truly didn't give them the credit they deserved as a team. Because let's face it, Creighton was the big dogs of that conference but Wichita State showed that they can complete and only lost by four to the eventual National champion in Louisville.
Then you take a look at a team like La Salle, who had their ups and downs in their basketball program. But they finally broke that 20 plus year drought of making the NCAA tournament and they sure showed the country that Philadelphia basketball is back. While sweating it out on Selection Sunday, La Salle was in the play in game as a 12th seed taking on Boise State in Dayton. The Explorers would get through them, and then they had to take on the 5th seed in the Kansas State Wildcats in Kansas City.
That did not phase the Explorers as they got out to a lead and held on. They were truly one of the NCAA's Cinderella teams. After that they took on the number 13 seed in Ole Miss with Marshall Henderson and again La Salle made their own history. Philadelphia's own Tyrone Garland hit a floater aka called the Southwest Philly Floater to defeat Ole Miss to move onto the Sweet 16. So in La Salle's quest they took out teams from the Mountain West, Big 12, and SEC. That isn't bad at all and many people expect them to be just as good this upcoming season.
Finally everybody's Cinderalla, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, took the nation by storm in the NCAA tournament because of how they played the game with offensive skill and style. Every time you looked they were dishing out an alley-oop it almost looked like a highlight reel on YouTube but in an actual game. In their quest they took out Georgetown, who was a two seed and then San Diego State the next game and would fall to the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16. But the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles proved that a 15 seed can win and it did wonders for the school. People actually started to learn about the school and then enrollment went up for the school so it did wonders for the school athletically and academically.
So before you say that these games in this marathon aren't worth watching just take a look at what teams are in it, the mid-majors who try hard and are finally getting their due diligence.