It is not by accident that the Manhattan-Iona matchup keeps getting on TV.
“There are certain preferences that we put into the schedule,” MAAC associate commissioner for men’s basketball Ken Taylor said. “The first thing we do is television.”
The two programs, who have played each other in the last two MAAC tournament championships, will play at least once on ESPN, getting a 10pm ESPNU game for their first meeting on February 13th.
“We talk to them about what games they want to see, when they want to see them and plus we want atmospheres like we had like with Manhattan and Iona,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t an accident that game was scheduled that day.”
The league’s final Friday night wild card on February 27 could easily feature the league’s last two tournament champions in either a 6pm ESPNU game or a 7pm ESPN2 game. The conference gets one ESPN2 regular season game per year prior to the conference’s championship game.
“We felt those two teams were in the title game the year before, those were the two teams projected last year to be the best teams and we said let’s finish the year off, plus we knew we had one ESPN2 game that we get every year regular season so let’s make sure that game is in position to be shown,” Taylor said of last season’s wild card selection for Iona-Manhattan. “We leave it as a wild card when we put the schedule out every year, but it’s not an accident.”
Iona is guaranteed five television games, the most out of any team in the conference. Not only will they play Manhattan on ESPNU, they will meet Marist a week later in Poughkeepsie on the same network at 9pm.
Marist, Rider and St. Peter’s will all be on at least four times and every MAAC team is guaranteed at least three games. This does not include games that will be on team-run channels on ESPN3, which Monmouth will have throughout the season. Other schools are known to be looking into this as well, but none have announced any agreements.
During the year there will be six wild card dates, including the traditional wild card that is set for February 27, where one game will be selected for ESPNU and one game will be selected for ESPN3.
“The MAAC brand of highly competitive NCAA Division I basketball continues to be televised nationwide because of the relationship with ESPN,” commissioner Rich Ensor said in a statement. “The relationship is a great asset of the conference and highly prized by the league’s member schools which look forward to another season of games across ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.”
Canisius will play their rivalry game at Niagara to kick off the league’s schedule on ESPN3, playing on December 6 at 3pm. There will be one wild card game to close the season on March 1 on ESPN3 and Quinnipiac will travel to Manhattan for a 2pm meeting on ESPN3.
A total of 47 games will be played on the ESPN family of networks, of those games nine will be on ESPNU and one on ESPN2 prior to the MAAC tournament championship game on March 9.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.