America East gets its moment in the sun

When you think of Madison Square Garden, you probably think of Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, John Starks, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan (definitely Michael Jordan), the St. John's Red Storm, the thousand or so romantic comedies that have used the Garden as a backdrop, "Eddie" and Jay-Z. (You gotta pardon Jay/ for selling out the Garden in a day.) You probably don't think of America East basketball.

Oh, but that's about to change, kids. The America East Conference is, at least for one night, taking over the most famous arena in the world. On Feb. 10, 2011, Albany and Boston University will play the America East's first-ever game between two conference foes at MSG, according to a release from the conference. The game will follow a St. John's-Connecticut contest and tip off at around 9:35 EST; the idea belongs to former America East commissioner and current St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch.

“This is a wonderful step forward for America East Basketball,” [America East commissioner Patrick] Nero said. “Madison Square Garden has been the mecca of college basketball for over 75 years. We are thrilled that the students, alumni and fans from Boston University and Albany will get an opportunity to experience college basketball in The Garden. If you play college basketball or are a fan of college basketball, you want to get the chance to enjoy the passion and history of Madison Square Garden.”

I doubt we'll have to pardon BU and Albany for selling out the Garden in a day -- it's easier to imagine a half-filled stadium emptying out after UConn and St. John's finish their tilt -- but no matter. The sheer existence of the game is what someone who gets paid to say things like the following would call a "strategic brand awareness event." Indeed.

(Hat tip: College Hoops Journal)