I love watching college sports. I am that guy that will watch every college football bowl game no matter how bad or small it is. I will watch the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, as well as the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl or Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. When people complain about too many bowl games, I answer with “is there ever too many football games?” The answer is an obvious no.
It is the same way with college basketball. I hear complaining about the lameness of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) all of the time. And sure it is a bit lame at time. Monday’s Illinois / Alabama game proved that at least one team (Illinois) had no interest in being there at all. But the upcoming Tulsa / Murray State game sure looks like a fun watch. Or how about Stanford / Rhode Island? A true fan of basketball can find things to like.
A bit further down the rung is the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) that is put on by The Gazelle Group. This pay-to-play tourney has been going on since 2008 and has been won by the big boys of college basketball known as Siena, Santa Clara, Pittsburgh, Virginia Commonwealth, Oregon State and the aforementioned Tulsa. You may have trouble even finding many of these games on television until the CBS Sports Network picks up the final set of games. Did I mention that the CBI has a final schampionship series with a Best-of-Three series to decide the winner? And did you hear the pretty decent matchup of Gardner-Webb and Colorado is in the news because one of the Buffaloes players, a senior, has elected to skip out on the game(s)?
And then there is the CIT, also known as the Collegeinsider.com Tournament. I really like the CIT as it is meant for mid-major and below programs that have little chance of dancing this time of year. Spunky NJIT already beat Big Ten kingpin Michigan this year and looks to keep going. And how excited is Maryland-Eastern Shore to play in their first postseason game in 30 years? Just expect to have to watch most of these game online, as Texas A&M Corpus Christi at Florida Gulf Coast won’t be hitting ESPN any time soon.
So if you are watching one of these games you need some special tailgating food;
CBI Pale Ale Beef Stew
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds beef top blade, or flatiron, steaks (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick), cut into 4-by-1-inch strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour Two 12-ounce bottles
CBI pale ale
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
1 cup frozen baby peas
- In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until sizzling. Season the meat with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add half of the meat to the casserole and cook over high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side. Transfer the meat to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil and meat, reducing the heat if the meat browns too quickly.
- Add the onion to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir well. Stir in the pale ale and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and thyme and return the beef to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Bring the stew to a boil, skimming the surface occasionally. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Add the carrots, cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper, discard the bay leaves and serve.
Invitational Rib Glaze
1 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
1 cup Vermont maple syrup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic granules
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground white peppercorns
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon MSG
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
4 Tablespoons cold salted butter (thinly sliced)
Bring whiskey, maple syrup, vinegar and brown sugar to a simmer. Remove from heat and add garlic, onion powder, ground pepper, dry mustard, MSG and chipotle. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk cold butter into the sauce.
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 pounds baby back pork ribs (8 racks) or St. Louis-style spareribs (4 racks)
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil; sprinkle rub all over ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets. Bake ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours for baby backs and 3 hours for spareribs.