Saturday, January 11, 2014

UMass basketball experiencing strong national televison exposure

By Zachary Baru

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team is enjoying what the perks of having a strong team can bring, and doing so with the rest of the country on televison.  To date, four games this season have been televised on the ESPN family of networks, with two more on the way.

Additonally, one game has appeared on both the CBS Sports Network and the NBC Sports Network.  NBCSN currently is scheduled to air two more games, the first of which will be televised live from the Mullins Center today at 12:30 p.m. as the Minutemen take on St. Bonaventure.  CBS Sports Network is also set to air four games this season.

The growing product of the Atlantic 10 Conference and their ability to make agreements with national television partners is one reason for the vast coverage, but the Minutemen's recent sucess deserves most of the credit.  UMass is currently ranked #19 in the Associated Press poll, their highest ranking in the poll since 1998.

UMass' 69-67 win over Providence on December 28 in front of a sellout crowd of 9,493 in Amherst was televised live on ESPNU, and was a great way to showcase the success of UMass both on and off the court to a national televison audience.

February 21 will be a big night for UMass, as they will be shown live on ESPN2 at 7 when they face A-10 rival Virgina Commonwealth.  The high national ranking along with the strong national televison coverage creates a unique opportunity for some of the best expsoure for the UMass basketball brand in quite some time. 

Zach Baru can be followed on Twittter @zbaru and reached at

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

After seven years, Mullins Center sellout worth the wait

By Zachary Baru

After many years of fans showing up at the box office, buying walk-up tickets to games, the first sellout crowd in seven years for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team was a delight to the 9,493 in attendance for the Minutemen's 69-67 win over Providence on December 28.

The feeling may not have been the same for fans waiting in line when the announcement was made that the game was sold out, and tickets were no longer available at the time.  A long line of fans continued to wait in the cold, as some tickets became available after about a half hour. 

This is the reality of having a team that is nationally ranked.  Presently, UMass is #19 in the Associated Press poll, making this the lowest AP ranking for UMass since 1998.  The sellout - which UMass also had at the MassMutual Center on December 7 - will likely not be the Minutemen's last this season.

The Saturday night start time helped, and playing Providence did not hurt either, but the remarkable aspect to the sellout was that it occured during intersession for students.  While the student section certainly had its fair share of supporters, there were still less students in the Mullins Center than usual, sometimes making the arena eerily quiet for a sellout. 

The Providence game was a hometown supported game, and a nice treat for UMass fans to see what the fan base is capable of, without all of the help from students.  It is comforting to know the potential of Western Massachusetts fans, which could be seen live nationally on ESPNU.  UMass, and all of Western Mass. was represented well, something that hopefully will become the norm.

The Mullins Center was built on success, and finally that excitment is back in the arena.  There should be no excuses now as to why fans can't fill the building.  It has been done this season in Springfield, and now Amherst.  It is amazing what the affects of a national ranking can bring for a team. 

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at