Sports Chronicle: Has anyone filled in their CBI slot? – Vicksburg post
Sports Chronicle: Has anyone filled in their CBI slot?
Published at 04:00 on Saturday, March 18, 2023
Most college basketball fans are focused on the NCAA Tournament this weekend, and rightly so.
Completing a parenthesis is an annual ritual. Winning an office pool is something we’ve bragged about for years, much the same way parents brag about their children’s accomplishments. The upheavals make us vibrate, yet another championship by Duke or Kentucky bores us.
The commercials that loop endlessly for four days bring us pop culture moments to tell. Jack Link’s Peeing Sasquatch is sure to overtake Lily From AT&T in the commercial spokesperson rankings this weekend.
In Mississippi, there were even plenty of reasons to check out the second-tier NIT (National Invitational Tournament) as Southern Miss and Alcorn State made appearances this year.
What really catches my eye, however, is one tournament I probably won’t watch for a minute – the College Basketball Invitational, or CBI. Just the fact that this thing exists, and has existed for 15 years, is fascinating.
“CBI” sounds like either some obscure government organization or the next weird banking term that is about to blow up our economy. In reality, it’s the post-season equivalent of a dollar store, not one of the fancy ones.
If you haven’t done well enough to make the 68-team NCAA Tournament…or the 32-team NIT…then you might still have a shot at earning the right to say “We’re number one (-oh-one)!” ” by winning the CBI.
That is, of course, provided you pay the $27,500 entry fee to participate.
To give you an idea of the type of school that would accept this agreement, 10 of the 16 CBI teams have a direction or a city in their name. Two others are named after a food (Rice) and a hat (Stetson). These seem like fun facts that you probably won’t find in the CBI press releases.
Reaching the NCAA Tournament is the basic goal of every team. Playing in the NIT isn’t as great, but it does have some legacy prestige and can serve a purpose. Playing in the CBI is like getting an invite to an underground fighting competition in a seedy bar basement in Hong Kong.
All games are played in Daytona Beach, Florida. Even if you want to watch them, it’s very difficult. The first two rounds air only on FloHoops.com, which seems like a good website that streams a number of games but isn’t exactly on most people’s radar. The semifinals and finals get a bump up to ESPN2.
The CBI moved from on-campus sites to a single location in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past two years, none of Daytona Beach’s 22 games has drawn more than 800 spectators.
Last year’s championship game, in which UNC Wilmington defeated Middle Tennessee 96-90, brought together 624 people with nothing better to do in Daytona Beach during spring break.
If you win a post-season tournament and no one sees you lifting the trophy, have you really won it?
The CBI seems about as pointless as it gets, and yet it’s also one of the things that makes sports great precisely because it’s pointless. It’s weird and it’s goofy, which makes it quite fun. And after 15 years, it looks like he has a weird niche in the college basketball landscape, which is kind of fascinating.
Even so, I’m not sure anyone is ready to launch a CBI desktop pool. Looks like they’d rather watch a Sasquatch piss than give the CBI a few moments of their time.
Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of the Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at [email protected]
About Ernest Bowker
Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of the Vicksburg Post. He has been a member of the Vicksburg Post sports team since 1998, making him one of the longest-serving reporters in the paper’s 140-year history. The New Jersey native graduated from LSU. During his career, he won more than 50 Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press awards for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.
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