Rumors of the creation of a Philly Six men's basketball tournament have recently been circulating around the city. The Philly Six — which would add Drexel on top of the Big 5 — has been endorsed by Dragons coach Zach Spiker, according to NCAA.com.
But what exactly would this tournament look like, and what is the likelihood that it’s actually created?
According to Spiker, the competition would be a six-team tournament on the first weekend of the season every year — hosted at the Palestra, in an ideal world — that compacts the entire Big 5 schedule into just three days. Seeding for the tournament would be based off the end of the previous year’s RPI rankings.
One motivating force behind this could be to lessen the burden on 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova’s schedule, as the Wildcats would then have more time to play major powerhouses throughout the year instead of scheduling mid-major programs like Penn, Saint Joseph’s, and La Salle in separate weeks.
Another reason cited by NCAA.com in favor of the season-opening tournament would be to regenerate a new buzz of excitement in Philadelphia for college basketball. A city in love with the game, it would cherish a Philly Six Tournament, the article alleges.
Penn coach Steve Donahue is not sold on the idea, however.
“I love the Big 5, and I want it here forever,” he said. “Whatever’s best for all five schools, or if you want to say six [including Drexel], great, but we have something no other city has. We need to preserve it. If it needs to be tweaked to get better, I’m all for it. I think all of us are. But I don’t think anybody has the right answer yet.”
Stakeholders have been searching for that right answer for a couple years now, Donahue said. But that answer remains elusive, assuming it isn’t the Philly Six Tournament.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s gonna happen,” Donahue said.
For now, then, Philly’s crown jewel, the Big 5, will remain untouched. More ideas, however, could surface in the near future for more change.