University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball players Drew Baker and Alex Bran planned their Tuesday night around college basketball.
Both said before Tuesday's practice that they wanted to watch No. 14 North Carolina play against No. 1 Indiana.
Junior Sam Watson couldn't care less about watching two of the most storied programs in college basketball go head to head in an early-season contest.
"Unless somebody from our league is on, I don't watch," Watson said. "It's hard to enjoy it when you see X's and O's."
A quick, informal survey of 10 UTC players before practice Tuesday revealed a wide range of college basketball viewing habits.
Some said they watch more than five games a week. Some said they watch almost none. The results average out that the Mocs watch about three games per week.
There are two reasons that UTC players flip on an ESPN channel for a game. They want to be entertained or educated -- sometimes both.
"Every time that I have no homework, it's going to be college basketball," senior Drazen Zlovaric said. "Over the last two years I watch a lot, especially teams that you're familiar with or that you're going to play."
ESPN, as well as the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast conferences, bought in to a league-versus-league series several years ago. ESPN also brought college basketball fans what it billed as "Feast Week" with tournaments ranging from the Bahamas to Hawaii, and it created the BracketBuster Series that now includes a pool of more than 130 teams for about 12 televised games in late February.
"I've got to watch Ohio State at Duke," sophomore guard Ronrico White said of tonight's game. "I'll watch for entertainment and I may try to learn a move or something."
UTC coach John Shulman may watch more games than all of his players combined. He joked that if he's not reading a book to his youngest son, he's watching a game with a pad of paper within reach to jot down a note or idea. He may even steal a play or two from something he sees on TV.
"I'd like them to watch a lot, but I understand that they don't live it like coaches live the game," Shulman said. "You don't watch any game for enjoyment as a coach.
"They have school, they have a social life and other things going in their life that I don't."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.