College basketball season opened last week. Perhaps you heard. Probably you didn't.
OSU opened last Friday against Cal-Davis. OU opened Sunday against Louisiana-Monroe. Combined record last season for the Davises and the Monroes: 8-52.
With more gems to follow. OU has home games against Northwestern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Ohio and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. OSU will host Portland State, Central Arkansas, Texas-Arlington and Tennessee Tech.
The Cowboys, at least, also are bringing in some decent names. Gonzaga, South Florida and Missouri State.
But the sad truth about non-conference college basketball is this: the best games are played off campus.
College hoops' early season is conducted under dark of night. It's a shrouded sport. Opens in November, going against the monster of American tackle football, and when the gridiron takes a small break, most students are gone for Christmas break and basketball goes on semi-hiatus, too.
College hoops go out like a lion but come in like a lamb. There's no campus buzz. Nothing to juice a fan base that needs prodding.
On all but a few campuses, basketball is a November/December afterthought. Something to do if nothing else is going on.
Yet this sport takes its best non-conference games off campus. Takes it to big cities and tropical locales.
Duke-Kentucky and Michigan State-Kansas were played this week in Atlanta. But at least those four bluebloods will go home to packed houses, even if the opponent is Elon or Eastern Michigan.
Not so for most every other team in America.
Syracuse and San Diego State played on the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier. Pacific winds made it hard to shoot. UConn and Michigan State played at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Chalk those games up to military appreciation.
But why such goodwill for Puerto Rico, where this week OSU is playing in a tournament that includes the likes of Tennessee, North Carolina State, Providence and UMass? Why not have the Cowboys go to Tennessee and host N.C. State in Stillwater?
Why such goodwill for Orlando, where the Sooners play next week along with Gonzaga, West Virginia, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Davidson and Texas-El Paso?
Why not go to Gonzaga and play Vanderbilt in Norman?
These NCAA-sponsored exempt tournaments allow teams to play extra games, which is a goofy rule. Set the number of games and stick with it, whether you're playing on land, sea or air.
These tournaments are made possible because major-conference teams won't schedule home-and-home series with the likes of Southern Illinois and St. Mary's.
So the destination sites thrive. Cancun: DePaul, Iowa, Wichita State, Western Kentucky. The Bahamas: Duke, Memphis, Missouri, Louisville, Stanford, Virginia Commonwealth, Minnesota, Northern Iowa).
The Virgin Islands: Wake Forest, Connecticut. Las Vegas: Arkansas, Arizona State, Creighton, Wisconsin.
And Brooklyn. Forget Allen Fieldhouse or Cameron Indoor. College hoops' new Mecca is the just-opened Barclays Center, which before New Year's will have hosted Maryland-Kentucky, Notre Dame-St. Joseph's, BYU-Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, UCLA, Georgia, Michigan, West Virginia, Fordham, Princeton, Long Island, Seton Hall, Manhattan and South Carolina.
The old Mecca, Madison Square Garden, hosts Alabama-Oregon State, Villanova-Purdue, Texas-Georgetown, UConn-North Carolina State, Syracuse-Temple, Michigan, Pitt, Kansas State and Virginia.
We can go forever. The Great Alaska Shootout, Anaheim, multiple tournaments in Hawaii.
These events are endless and suck the soul from college basketball.
It's time to get good games back to campus, where they belong.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.