This blog has been known to take an annual trip to multiple NCAA basketball conference tournaments the last few years. It's time to plan the trip for 2006. Here's the options:
Trip #1: West Coast Conference and hopefully Big Sky Conference.
3/3 WCC, 3/4 WCC (possibly Big Sky too if in E. Washington), 3/5 WCC, 3/6 Driving day, 3/7 Big Sky, 3/8 Big Sky.
Between 7 and 10 games. Both conferences new to this blog. Ticket cost roughly $110. 7 hotel nights, need rental car, 6 days off of work. 5 of 8 Big Sky schools would be within driving distance. 1st round of conference tournament (on 3/4) is at high seeds, which is really just 2 schools (3rd and 4th place in conference) due to 6-team tournament. 2nd and 3rd rounds will be at #1 seed's campus. 5 of the 8 conference schools are within driving distance of Spokane, WA. Clearly a risky gambit, but this will be one of 2 forseeable years when the Big Sky is geographically compatible with any other conference. Some big pros include being at Gonzaga's campus for the WCC and having a whole day to drive at most 8 hours, but probably more like 3-6 hours. Also get to cruise around Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
Trip #2: Mid-Continent Conference, Big 12, and hopefully Southland Conference.
3/4 Mid-Con, 3/5 Mid-Con, 3/6 Mid-Con, 3/7 Mid-Con, 3/8 Possibly Southland, 3/9 Big 12, 3/10 Big 12, 3/11 Big 12, 3/12 Big 12.
Between 18 and 19 games. All 3 conferences new. Ticket cost roughly $280. 9 hotel nights, need rental car, 7 days off work. Only 4 of 8 Southland schools within driving distance of Tulsa, OK. All games are at high seed. Southland much more risky than Big Sky based on past performance of the driveables. Total of probably 13 hours driving, really only 2 days that would require driving. Big 12 somewhat risky as well based on selling out their tournament a lot. Big pros include the warmest weather of the choices, and the Big 12 is playing in a brand new arena in Dallas. Southland has a very cool logo so that would be a sweet shirt to get. Aside from this, Big 12 arguably the best conference among the choices.
Trip #3: America East Conference, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Big East Conference.
3/3 America East, 3/4 America East, 3/5 Metro Atlantic, 3/6 Metro Atlantic, 3/7 Baseball Hall of Fame, 3/8 Big East, 3/9 Big East, 3/10 Big East, 3/11 Big East.
20 games. All 3 conferences new. Ticket cost roughly $360. 9 hotel nights, need rental car, 7 days off work. Total of 12 hours driving, 4 days which this blog would need to (America East in Vestal, NY, 3 hours from NYC & airport). Big East very moderately risky due to ticket availability. These conferences have had the same sites the last 3 years, so this trip is possible to save. Big pros include the Hall of Fame, which this website has always wanted to go to, and a possible meeting with the Road Trip guys
. Big cons include New York driving and hotels. Having Marquette around this blog's area (and maybe getting a 5-game pack) helps with the ticket situation.
Trip #4: Sun Belt Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, Conference USA, and SEC.
3/2 Sun Belt, 3/3 Sun Belt, 3/4 A10, 3/5 A10, 3/6 A10, 3/7 Sun Belt, 3/8 Conference USA, 3/9 CUSA, 3/10 SEC, 3/11 SEC, 3/12 SEC.
27 games. 3 of 4 conferences are new to this blog. Ticket cost roughly $390. 11 hotel nights, need rental car, 9 days off work. Total of 19 hours driving, 4 days which this blog would drive. A10 and SEC may be slightly tough to get tickets for. Big pros include good weather, probably the best overall basketball of the choices, giving the Sun Belt a better shot (This site has seen 1 half and an overtime of their tournament games). Also some nice symmetry since Sun Belt is 30 minutes away from SEC, allowing a tidy same airport rental, a necessity for these trips. Stops include Murfreesboro, TN - Cincinnati, OH - Memphis, TN - Nashville, TN.
Trip #5: Big Ten Conference.
3/9 Big Ten, 3/10 Big Ten, 3/11 Big Ten, 3/12 Big Ten.
9 games. New conference. Tickets roughly $225. 3 hotel nights, no rental car, 4 days needed off work (This site would take 5). Total of 12 hours driving, 2 days of driving. Tickets shouldn't be a problem. Big Ten only in Indianapolis every other year, this site wants to see them there instead of Chicago. Probable visit from a friend for 1 or more games. Big pros include Conseco Fieldhouse, best arena in sports according to Road Trip guys. Indianapolis also is an awesome town. Great trip, though available a lot, and Badgers probably not the favorite this year.
Trip #6: Mountain West Conference.
3/7 MWC, 3/8 Off, 3/9 MWC, 3/10 MWC, 3/11 MWC.
New conference. Tickets roughly $148. 5 hotel nights, rental car debateable, 5 days off work. No required driving. Tickets no problem. MWC in Denver every year. MWC unfortunately down this year, so not ideal basketball. Possibly meet a friend on 3/8, the friend lives in Boulder. Big pro is Denver rules, could possibly order a Denver omelette. Also, Mountain West logo is awesome, making a nice t-shirt, and it's at the Pepsi Center, which is a very cool arena and home of this blog's favorite Western Conference team, the Nuggets.
Feel free to vote on your favorites. Just leave a comment if you like.