One thing you can say about the College Basketball Invitational — its not afraid to be different.
As Wyoming and Coastal Carolina get ready to play Monday for the CBI championship, it’s not a one-game format. When the CBI was created 10 years ago it went with a best-of-3 series for the championship.
UW (21-14) plays at Coastal Carolina (19-17), located in Conway, S.C., at 5:30 p.m. MT. Game two is in Laramie at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday. If a third game is necessary, UW hosts that one as well at 5 p.m. MT. All games are televised on ESPNU. If you’re wondering why a potential third game is at such an odd time, don’t blame UW, it has to do with TV.
As for the best-of-3 format, first-year UW coach Allen Edwards said: “We’ll try it out. It’s differnet when you think about what is traditionally done in college basketball. It has more of a NBA feel. I’m interested to be a part of it and see.”
The NBA now uses best-of-7 series’ for all of its playoff games. There used to be best-of-5 for early round playoff matchups. The travel between Laramie and Conway is 1,810 miles and that will make things interesting for that second game in Laramie Wednesday — not just how both teams adjust from the first game, but also fatigue from travel, etc.
“You’ve got to bring it and make adjustments on fly. I think (the best-of-3 series) is good, but also kind of weird,” UW junior forward Alan Herndon said.
UW’s three CBI wins are its most in a postseason tournament (not including conference tournaments) since it won the 1943 national championship. One good thing about the CBI format is it doesn’t overlap with the NCAA Tournament. College basketball fans, if they choose to show interest, will get to see at least two games this week — and possibly three — prior to the Final Four. Throw in the NIT and CIT events, and there’s still plenty of basketball for fans to consume.
It will be interesting to see how UW responds to playing away from the friendly — and in the CBI the rather sparsely attended — confines of the Arena-Auditorium. The last time UW played away from there it played its worst game in an 83-68 first-round loss to Air Force in the Mountain West Tournament. The Cowboys are 3-9 on the road this season, and the last time they won a road game was at Air Force — 83-74 on Feb. 4.
“It’s impossible not to be excited and motivated, and I gurantee my team is going to be ready to go in all the games we play from here on out,” UW sophomore center Jordan Naughton said.
“Road wins are always a good feeling to get. We haven’t traveled in a long time, and we’re to being at home. Still, we’re pretty experienced on the road. Either home or away, we will play as hard as we can and the outcomes should be a win if we handle our business.”