NDSU will get a piece of the national stage Friday night when the Bison play at Akron on ESPN2 as part of the ESPN BracketBuster series. It’s the last year of the cross-country mid-major matchups, which is unfortunate since such TV appearances are generally rare for mid-majors.
The fact teams from the Summit, MAC or Horizon aren’t regular ESPN inhabitants is certainly not a surprise since TV is market driven. But I also like the BracketBuster in that it makes for a nice break from Duke, Michigan State or Indiana every weekend.
NDSU appears to be making some progress with basketball air time. The Bison will be on TV eight times in the regular season with some sort of Fox, Midco or ESPN combination. Oakland, which plays more major foes, will also be on eight times. South Dakota State has 10 TV games this season. On the other end, according to its website anyway, Western Illinois has no TV games other than its in-house Rocky Vision web stream.
Last year, the Bison had 10 games televised. In 2010-11. The prior year, there were only three and in 2009-10, there were six.
Akron plays in a 5,500-seat Rhodes Arena and is averaging 3,473 fans a game. Sounds pretty close to what NDSU presents in Fargo although Rhodes was built in the mid-1980s and has undergone a couple of renovations. This is beating a horse that has been dead for years, but until NDSU completes its renovation, it won’t be the cool mid-major TV atmosphere of other schools at its level.
Bison football had every game last fall on the tube, a result of a sold-out Fargodome and state-wide interest that makes for attractive ad sales. Basketball isn’t there yet, although a new arena will go a long way toward that. I’m of the belief the BSA as it is now is a detriment of over 1,000 fans on average per game. Nobody wants to sit on a hard, old bleachers anymore; it’s just not the generational thing to do. I’m also of the belief that NDSU needs to find its way on MidCo Sports Network even more. The network has shown the enthusiasm to be the regional TV sports source.