Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Coolest Value Matrix This Side of a Toyota Plant

This blog recently created a "value matrix" of potential conference trips for next year. It is Pun City's hope to reel of a number of trip recaps in the near future so that the whole trip from last year is laid out and we can jump to new topics, including next year's potential trip. However, right now, a brief intermission where we jump ahead.

So here's the rankings for the remaining 16 conferences this blog hasn't been to as yet. Points were given for the following categories: Quality of basketball; Ticket Cost/Availability; Proximity/Accessibility to other conference tournaments; Ancillary Costs; Weather; "Planability," based on when the site of the game is set; and any potential bonuses. 5 points in a category was the highest grade, 1 was the lowest.

Big East - This blog was surprised by where the Big East finished. However, the proof is in the pudding. They do get high marks for quality of play and planability, both are 5s since the Big East is perennially one of the top 4 conferences in the country and they play their tournament in Madison Square Garden every year. The problem is low marks in every other category. As a season ticket holder for a Big East school last year, Pun City wasn't even given an order form for Big East Tourney tickets. Ebay shows tickets usually in the $1000.00 range for all session passes. Ticket score: 1. New York is probably one of the most expensive cities in the country, primarily for hotels and transportation. Ancillary Cost score: 1. While proximate to other tournaments, given the costs mentioned earlier, along with the difficulty of driving in New York, it would not be smart to miss Big East games for lesser conferences. This aside from the fact that no nearby tournaments are being played immediately before the Big East tournament puts the Proximity score at 1. This blog didn't want to have weather be a major factor in outcomes, so it bottomed weather scores out at 2. New York in March is probably similar to Atlantic City in March, which had a snowstorm while Pun City visited this year. Big East weather score: 2. Total score: 15.

14T. Big Sky - Quality of play - 3. Montana did get an NCAA win in 2006 so not a bad deal there. Big Sky teams can consistently keep up with the major conferences if not come out with too many wins. Ticket availability: 5. This blog is sure that tickets wouldn't be a problem, primarily since the tournament location isn't announced until late February. The Big Sky's Proximity score comes in at a 2. While Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, if hosting tournament games, would be close to a couple other tournaments, the other 7 schools are too far to get to from any other conference. Planability is a 1 for the Big Sky. 9 schools canvassing practically one-third the area of the contiguous United States does not make flying into a "central location" viable. Also, the tournament sites aren't announced until late February, making travel arrangements for the early March trip nightmarish. Given this planability, this blog had to dock points for Ancillary Costs, which came in at a 2. Depending on the tourney site, weather could be great or lousy and anywhere in between. Weather points a 3. 1 bonus point was awarded since this blog has never visited the Pacific Northwest, and there's a good chance the Big Sky site would be there. Total points: 17.

14T. Northeast - Quality of play: 2. This conference sucks. As a result, ticket availability is undoubtedly easy, 5. A lot of potential sites close to other conferences' set and potential locations, although given the unpredictable sites, this blog doesn't think it would be too easy to lock in a route. Proximity's a 3. Northeastern US strikes this blog as being expensive, so Other Costs come in at a 3. Another late-determined site, although at least within reasonable driving distance, so Planability is a 2. Weather similar to Big East, another 2. Total points: 17.

13. Patriot - Carbon copy of NEC, but slightly better quality of play (3). Total points: 18.

11T. America East - Bonus for having a set site (Boston), 5 points on Planability. Proximity (4) good because Boston not the rental car black hole that NY is. Other costs 3, Weather 2, Ticket availability 5, and bonus points because this blog knows a friend in Massachusetts and might be able to hang out (maybe). Total points 22.

11T. Big South - Quality 3, Tickets 5, Proximity 3, Other Costs 4, Weather 5, Planability 2. Site undetermined until final standings. Total points: 22.

9T. Atlantic Coast - Great quality (5), Tickets very cost-prohibitive (i.e. at least $1000.00), (1). Fairly proximate to some other conferences (4). Other costs average (3), Weather (5), Planability (5). Like the Big East, but much improved since the trip can be combined with other tournaments (beforehand), and no New York expenses involved. Total points: 23.

9T. Southern - Quality (3), Tickets (5), Proximity (3), Other costs (4), Weather (5), Planability (2). Bonus of 1 given some new locations this blog could visit. Total points: 23.

6T. SWAC - Quality (2), Ticket (5), Proximity (2), since nothing's really close to Birmingham. Other Costs (5), Weather (5), Planability (5). Total Points: 24.

6T. Metro Atlantic - Quality (3), Ticket (5), Planability (4) - since the tournament has started in one location, then moved to higher seeds' home locations in the past. Last year it was all in Bridgeport, CT, so that score could improve if repeated. Other costs (4) given the possibility of having to drive elsewhere. Bonus of 2 since this blog has friends near Connecticut and prior site Vestal, NY. Total points: 24.

6T. SEC - Quality (5), Ticket (2), tickets could be expensive but there's a chance they're available to the public if it's in a big facility. Proximity a (4) since some stops possible before it, Other Costs (3), Weather and Planability both (5)s. Total points: 24.

5. Big XII - Quality (5), Tickets (2), this blog isn't too hopeful on a ticket in a 17000-seat arena, but maybe it's easier than Pun City thinks. Proximity a (4) since Mid-Con and Missouri Valley in the vicinity. Other costs a (4), Kansas City's affordable. Weather (4), Planability (5) and a bonus given that this blog hasn't been to Kansas City and could potentially tour Kaufman Stadium.

3T. MAC - Quality (4), Tickets (5), Proximity (2), it's unlikely that anything's within striking distance of Cleveland. Maybe some Horizon League options or Patriot League are possible. Other costs (5), Weather (2), Planability (5), 3 bonus points given this blog knows Michigan and Columbus residents, so visits from or to them might be possible. Total points: 26.

3T. Southland - Quality (3), Tickets (5), Proximity (2), probably only Birmingham even within striking distance, also possible Sun Belt destinations. Other costs (5), Weather (5), Planability (5), and a bonus point for a possible Houston Rockets game plus the conference logo being cool.

2. West Coast - Quality (4), Tickets (3?) - this blog doesn't know what their deal is. Theoretically, having spoken to a conference official last year, the conference is going to be in a larger venue this season. Their website says that they'll be in Southern California, which isn't too specific. This blog is hoping that it's the Staples Center or some huge spot where they couldn't possibly sell it out, even with all the Gonzaga fans. However, this blog is also ready for a giant letdown since the last 2 years when the tournament was in Spokane and Portland, there were no tickets available to the general public. This despite the arenas being virtually empty every non-Gonzaga game, much to this blog's chagrin. Pun City is keeping an eye on the situation and hopes to see a huge venue with tons of extra tickets available. Proximity a (5), Other Costs a (3) since LA is expensive but flights there aren't. Weather (5), Planability (5) for now since this blog assumes they'll have a specific site chosen before the season begins. That could fall. Given a couple friends in LA, this blog is awarding 3 bonus points to the WCC. Total points: 28.

And, #1 is....

Mountain West - Mountain West? Actually yeah. Quality (4), Tickets (5), has to be one of the easiest tickets in the country. This blog was able to find 3rd-row seats as late as December last year. Proximity (5), can get to some L.A. tournaments and possibly the Big Sky if it's in Northern Arizona or Sacramento. Even the WAC isn't out of the question in Las Cruces, NM. Other costs (3), Weather (5), Planability (5), and 3 bonus for being close enough for LA friends to visit and being in Las Vegas where this blog hasn't yet been. Could be pretty cool. This blog is thinking the ideal trip would be WCC and MWC, but we'll see what happens with the WCC location and ticket availability.

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