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NCAA conferences battle for New York City

This is the opposite of escape New York. NCAA conferences love New York and the city is not bringing them down. In fact, three conferences will hold their tourneys in the Big Apple. The battle for New York is on.

The Big Ten just completed their conference championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Big East will hold their conference there as well, as is tradition. The ACC is holding their conference tournament across the East River in Brooklyn. Everyone NCAA basketball conference wants a piece of the largest city in America and there are multiple good reasons why.

New York has always been hailed as the Mecca of basketball, but its influence in college basketball has waned a bit. St. John’s hasn’t been a contender for some time now. New York City high school talent has spread across the country to multiple different schools. Following college basketball is no longer regional, and the Big East doesn’t dominate in New York recruiting like it once did.

That leaves a wide open television market, and big NCAA basketball conferences see an opportunity to plant their flag. The Big Ten was criticized for moving its tournament up to blatantly make a play for NYC. It ended up working out. The tournament was successful. The building was full, and since it was the only conference tourney going on at the time, it got a ton of coverage and attention. The Big East and ACC will make their play at New York this week with their tournaments.

The New York market is essentially open for any conference to plant their proverbial flag. The Big East has St. John’s which should put them in the driver’s seat but St. John’s need to be good again. For all the take about Los Angeles liking winners, the New York market also has some bandwagon tendencies. Now that the Big East and St. John’s are having a bit of a downturn the Big Ten and ACC are casting their gaze to the biggest sports media market in the United States.

The Big Ten has a ton of graduates living in the city. Just take a quick walk around Murray Hill and it’s easy to find Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland, Wisconsin and Rutgers graduates along with the smatterings of Georgetown, and Syracuse alums. There’s a reason MSG was packed for the tournament last weekend. The ACC doesn’t have the same population, but they do provide the bigger brand names in college basketball with Syracuse, Duke, and North Carolina in the ACC.

This is a television and influence play. Two of the bigger and more successful college basketball conferences see New York as ripe for the taking. It’s a developed market with basketball fans without a school or a conference that is dominant in the city. Hosting a college basketball tournament there is about attempting to be the dominant conference in the city.

It also could help build school brand recognition for football. The northeast doesn’t have a dominant football program. It’s a lot easier for someone who becomes a Michigan basketball fan to become a Michigan football fan. Brand recognition and halo effect come into play when the conferences try to plant their flag in the New York market.

The battle for New York is on. It won’t end soon. The Big Ten will move their conference tournament back to Chicago, but should consider hosting it in New York on a rotation. The ACC already said it was planning on coming back to New York in the future. The Big East needs to figure out a way to defend its turf. The large market makes for a pretty compelling story to sponsor and television partners. The fight for New York City basketball dominance may take some time. The conferences understand what they are getting into. They wouldn’t have invested in it otherwise.

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