For the past couple of years, I’ve been maintaining a ridiculous spreadsheet. Inspired by a love of professional wrestling and a desire to see meaningful college basketball games in November, I came up with the ‘College Basketball Belt.’ Essentially, it’s a heavyweight championship that is defended every time the belt-holder takes the court, not just in April at the Final Four.
This is not an original idea; the folks at College Football Belt have been doing this with football for a while now. But a college football team plays at most 15 times as a season whereas the College Basketball Belt could be defended two or three times a week.
I went back to the first NCAA Tournament championship game and made Oregon the inaugural College Basketball Belt holder. Since then, the belt has changed hands 698 times. There have been some hiccups along the way: I had to strip Cal State Los Angeles of the title, as I couldn’t find their schedule after they beat Cal Poly in 1950. And then that year’s tournament winner, CCNY, was stripped of the title after some controversy. I’m still working on sorting all that out.
Of course, Carolina is the current heavyweight champion. I wouldn’t be writing this if they weren’t. And typically the winner of the NCAA Tournament is going to be the champion in the off-season, unless a team somehow holds the belt, wins their last game and doesn’t qualify for their conference tournament.
Carolina and Duke are tied with 26 title reigns overall. The Tar Heels dropped the belt in last year’s championship game and then won it back from Gonzaga in 2017.
We’ll keep you updated as the season goes on as to who holds the belt and when it’s on the line. But for now, know this: Friday, Friday, Friday . . . the title is on the line when Northern Iowa comes to town.