This guy was on Kravitz and Eddie's show yesterday - of course I agree with him 100%. The best and most correct thing he said is casual sports fans don't really love college basketball - they just love March Madness - but even during March madness - they love the brackets, the office pools, selection Sunday, the one-and-done format. But do they actually love the games - do they actually watch the games - not really.
One huge advantage the college game has over the NBA is completely lost during March Madness. During the college regular season the crowds are really into the game - but then during the tournament all that is lost because everything is at nuetral sites. In the NBA regular season the crowds are mostly dead - but in the playoffs the crowds are great - as good as any college crowd
College hoops no match for the NBA
April 5, 2009
I'm going to let you in on a little secret about yourself.
You do not really love college basketball.
You love all that surrounds college basketball.
But the actual game itself is too often painful to watch.
The NBA is poetry in motion; college basketball is frequently drudgery in motion.
"I like college basketball," says Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy, a former college coach, "but certainly don't think it's a better game than the NBA. The NBA has the greatest players in the world. You'll see more great plays in one NBA game than you'll see in the entire March Madness."
Van Gundy's statement may seem like basketball blasphemy on this Final Four weekend, but it's true. Let's face it, casual sports fans don't really love college basketball; they just love March Madness.
They love their brackets, the office pools and the drama and excitement of Selection Sunday and the one-and-done NCAA Tournament format.
And don't get me wrong, I love it, too. You can't beat the passion and pageantry of college basketball. Give me the exuberance of college student sections over the affluent apathy that customarily crowds into the NBA club seats. And give me the exhilaration of a college pep band over the artificial noise pumped into NBA arenas.
But when you peel away all this superfluousness and wade through the overstated, carnival-barking Dick Vitale hype and hoopla, the game of college basketball itself simply doesn't compare to the NBA.
J.J. Redick was one of the greatest college players of all-time, but he can barely get off the Magic bench. Likewise, the most decorated player in this weekend's Final Four — North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough — is considered little more than a marginal NBA prospect.
I'll give you five bucks if you can name five college players participating in the Final Four. ... I'm waiting ... Still waiting ... Give up yet?
My point is this: At least in the NBA, you know the best players on the best teams. In fact, you know them on a first-name basis — LeBron, Kobe, Dwight and D-Wade.
Star power is what drives sports, and college basketball has none. One of the reasons, of course, is because we never get a chance to know the great players in college because they have either turned pro right out of high school or were one-and-done college mercenaries.
But another reason for the anonymity of college players is because the regular season is essentially meaningless and is therefore ignored by most casual fans. Consequently, when March Madness gets here, we have no idea who or what we're watching.
The only star power college basketball has is the coaches themselves. And who among us actually turns on a basketball game to watch a slick-haired college coach in a nice suit stomp his Gucci loafers and yell at his team to switch from man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone?
And spare me the rhetoric about how the college game is more geared toward "team" basketball. Puh-leeze. Have you seen some of the scores in the NCAA Tournament? Like Michigan State advancing to the Final Four with a 64-52 victory over Louisville? Or what about North Carolina's 72-60 win over Oklahoma in another regional final?
If the NBA played such low-scoring games, the fans would boycott and teams would get booed off the court.
Too many college games are in the 50s or 60s because the players don't have enough talent and the officials call too many fouls. During one juncture in the East Regional final between Villanova and Pitt, a whistle blew on nine consecutive trips down the court. That's about as much fun to watch as Al Gore giving a speech on how America is perilously close to using up its zinc supply.
Admit it, the allure of March Madness is not in the game itself, but in the atmosphere and aura surrounding the game.
The NCAA Tournament is a more entertaining spectacle.
The NBA is a much better sport.
Mike Bianchi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.