Why can’t Nashville have a rich basketball tradition like Philly?

By MIKE PATTON | Nashville Voice

The energy in the building was frenetic, the play was excellent and the crowd was engaged. Such was the environment when the Belmont Bruins hosted the Lipscomb Bisons in the second of their regular season clashes in an ESPN-network televised match on Dec. 4.

The battle between the two schools, called the Battle of the Boulevard, has been going on for a while and is a huge draw for both schools during basketball season. These type of Nashville neighborhood matchups are what Nashville wants to see, and with that being said, it is what we should have.

“There has been some discussion about that for years and years and years,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, when asked about the potential of a round-robin of Nashville teams. “That would all revolve around a Vanderbilt decision. And I am not saying they should or they shouldn’t, but we do have—if you count Middle Tennessee State—four different conferences you could get in that.

“It’s kind of tough because you have us and Tennessee State in the same conference and don’t want to play each other again (outside of our conference games), but it would be nice to have a doubleheader every year with those teams involved,” he continued.

Byrd would go on to talk more about how Vanderbilt and Tennessee have been good about playing teams in the area.

To expound on what he said at first, it would be some good basketball to see Nashville area teams Tennessee State, Belmont, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt all play each other in a style like Philadelphia does.

The only two questions would be where to play the games and what original name to give it. In Philadelphia, the Philly Five have the Palestra, which is the home gym of the Penn Quakers.

One option you could do in this one is to rotate home gyms to host these games. Outside of Tennessee State and Belmont, all the teams represent different conferences. By utilizing rotating gyms, it doesn’t provide a permanent homecourt advantage for anyone and it also allows everyone to be a host, in true round-robin style.

For the name, it can be a little challenging. The Philly Big Five has been going on for some time and is a known name there. Nashville could copy that and call the even the Nashville Big Five, but that would not be original.

One idea that could come fit would be the Battle of Nashville. Another name it could be is the Nashville Hardwood Battle. There could be plenty of names there on this one that would, sure enough, garner attention in Nashville.

Hopefully one day the powers that be will come together and get this idea rolling. It would not only be good to see these matchups, but it would help Nashville with having another big event in the city for everyone to come to.

And for the schools, the revenue it would bring in for all would be great. Nashville and the South, in general, may be a place where football is loved, but this basketball tournament would go a long way in bringing some basketball tradition to Nashville.

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