The truth about secret scrimmages

Updated: October 30, 2012, 5:49 PM ET
By Seth Greenberg

Secret scrimmages are the worst-kept secret in college basketball. Any hoops junkie will know whom his team is scrimmaging against, when his team is scrimmaging and where his team is scrimmaging.

That's because even though the NCAA doesn't allow coaches to discuss the scrimmages publicly, and they are closed to the media and fans, every university's message board will have a full breakdown of the scrimmage within hours of its conclusion.

So what really goes on at these scrimmages? Allow me to explain how the matchups come together, how the teams benefit and the point (or lack thereof) behind the secrecy.

Secret scrimmages versus exhibition games

The NCAA allows college basketball teams to play any combination of two scrimmages or exhibition games. Some programs opt for exhibitions for two reasons: First, they are part of the school's season-ticket package and are used to help fund the athletic department; and second, experiencing a game-day routine for the first time at the college level helps new players prepare for the season in a way that closed scrimmages do not. I spoke to Duke Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski about this recently, and he told me that he believes playing two games with the lights on in front of the Cameron Crazies gives his team -- particularly his freshmen -- a valuable dress rehearsal.