The West Virginia University vs. Morehead State NCAA Tournament game isn’t scheduled to tip off until 9:50 p.m. Friday.
It isn’t expected to conclude until after midnight in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
That is criminal.
It’s probably why television network officials decided to air the game on TruTV, which is normally a crime channel. Unlike the tipoff time, it makes perfect sense.
But 9:50 p.m.?
Is there any good reason to start an NCAA Tournament game so late it actually ends on the next day? I seriously doubt it. So do Mountaineer fans.
And why shouldn’t they? An examination of the schedule of games on Friday in the six venues in and around Indianapolis raises plenty of questions.
Most notably, why isn’t the first game of the day starting earlier than 12:15 p.m.? That’s what time Virginia Tech and Florida will take the court on Friday.
So it’s OK to burn the midnight oil, but it’s not all right to rise and shine? That makes no sense whatsoever.
Going down the schedule of games after the Hokies-Gators matchup, Colgate plays Arkansas at 12:45 p.m., Drexel vs. Illinois at 1:15 p.m., Utah State vs. Texas Tech at 1:45 p.m., Hartford vs. Baylor at 3:30 p.m., Loyola Chicago vs. Georgia Tech at 4 p.m. and Oregon State vs. Tennessee at 4:30 p.m.
Then a very interesting gap suddenly occurs in the schedule. There is almost a two-hour break — an hour and 55 minutes, to be exact — before Liberty plays Oklahoma State at 6:25 p.m.
Something tells me none of the teams are going to be eating pregame meals during that break.
Next, Wisconsin plays North Carolina at 7:10 p.m., followed by Cleveland State vs. Houston at 7:15 p.m. and North Texas vs. Purdue at 7:25 p.m.
Then guess what happens? Another two-hour — OK, 1:55 technically — break.
Following that inexplicable hiatus, Rutgers plays Clemson at 9:20 p.m. followed by Syracuse vs. San Diego State at 9:40 p.m., WVU vs. Morehead State at 9:50 p.m. and Winthrop vs. Villanova at 9:57 p.m.
This late-night schedule isn’t good for anybody. Not the players, not the coaches, not the fans, not the media — not anybody.
“It is definitely tough,” said James Baker, 6-foot-6 senior starting forward for Morehead State. “You are kind of anxious to play. So, just sitting around thinking about the game all day and not having anything to do is definitely kind of tough, but I think it gets us ready.”
WVU point guard Deuce McBride also weighed in on the late start.
“There are other games on that day,” he said. “I’ll probably watch a few of those. We have played a few late-night games that prepared us for this. It’s a long day. We’ll stay off our feet, things like that.”
Let’s just hope the powers that be select a more user-friendly tipoff time if WVU advances.
I’m not holding my breath.
n It turns out WVU long-range shooter Sean McNeil and Morehead State senior forward James Baker are well acquainted.
McNeil played for Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky while Baker starred for Meade County High School in Brandenburg, Kentucky.
“Yes, I know Sean,” said Baker during a Zoom meeting. “We actually played against him in a state tournament game in high school. Sean is one of my friends, one of my guys. I played against him in high school and in the first round of the state tournament.
“He actually was looking to come to Morehead State. We didn’t get him. He ended up going to [junior college] and then went to West Virginia. But that’s one of my guys.”