by Eli Boettger – November 6, 2017
College basketball officially tips off Friday.
Eastern Michigan keeps its tradition going by once again ushering in the new season with a Friday morning season-opening tip-off. The Eagles match up with Spring Harbor at 10:30am ET, 7:30am PT. Luckily for hungry and longing college hoops fans, the action runs all the way through the night, with three games tipping off at midnight ET, 9:00pm PT.
Because of college basketball’s geographical vastness, any given weeknight can have games tipping as early as 6pm ET or as late as 1am ET. There are teams sprinkled among five different time zones, which is unlike most other major sports.
I chose to dive a bit deeper into team schedules, finding the average tip-off time for each of the 351 D-I teams this season, then weighing it among the national average.
First, a few notes:
- Not every game has an official time confirmed. Any tip-off time not already confirmed was not included
- Among early season tournament games, only the pre-announced first round matchups with tip-off times are included
- All games are listed by Eastern time zone, not by local time
- To accompany potential issues such as games starting at midnight or later, I standardized each day by setting 6am ET as the earliest possible tip-off time, and 5:59am ET as the latest possible tip-off time. Because there is no tip-off marathon this season, there is no conflict created by these changes. For teams like Hawaii which sometimes plays at midnight ET or later, under a 24-hour clock, those games would appear to be the “earliest” in the day when, from a viewer’s perspective, they are the latest
To jump to the full set of data, click the following link:
In 2017-18, the average college basketball game tips off at 6:26pm ET. This number includes both weekday and weekend games throughout the season. Most weekday games, which make up more than half of most team’s schedules, don’t begin until at least 7:00pm ET. On Saturday and Sunday, the majority of games tip off at 12:00pm ET or later. The average of 6:26pm ET is both reasonable and can be explained by how college basketball schedules are designed.
The Big West, WCC, Pac-12, Mountain West and Big Sky are the five conferences with the latest average tip-off times. The earliest are the America East, NEC, MAAC, Patriot League, and Big East.
Among teams ranked in the Associated Press preseason top 25, the USC Trojans average the latest tip-off start, which is a whopping 167 minutes later than the national average at 9:13pm ET. That average time ranks 13th in the country.
Andy Enfield’s group already has 17 games that are scheduled to begin at 11:00pm ET or later. Among game times already announced, USC has just two set to tip before 7:00pm ET. Good luck catching this team during the regular season if you’re on the East Coast.
Other notables include Saint Mary’s (6th latest), Oregon (16th latest), Gonzaga (17th latest), UCLA (29th latest), Michigan (29th earliest), Butler (25th earliest), Georgetown (14th earliest) and Seton Hall (5th earliest).
Hawaii, of course, has the latest average tip-off time in the nation at 290 minutes later than the national average. The Rainbow Warriors have more games scheduled at 1:00am ET (four) than they do before 10:00pm ET (two). Feel free to check out Miami (FL) and Hawaii duke it out on December 23. The game is set to start at 1:00am ET and will be shown on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
Maybe you’re more of the George Washington type, though. The Colonials have the earliest average tip-off time in the country, which is 136 minutes earlier than the national average. GWU doesn’t tip a game later than 7:30pm ET during the regular season, and even has a handful of matchups that begin at noon ET. The difference in average tip-off times between George Washington and Hawaii is 426 minutes, or seven hours and six minutes.
Unless you live in Hawaii or are an unhealthy die-hard follower in the Pacific, there shouldn’t be an expectation that only “real fans” watch late West Coast matchups. It’s understandable why those on the East Coast, regardless of their dedication or affilation, aren’t able to watch Pac-12, WCC or Mountain West teams frequently. With the majority of the games starting no earlier than 10:00pm ET, it’s usually well past midnight until most West Coast games are completed.
Grab your Coke and get comfortable, it’s going to be a long and sleep-deprived season.