This week after two seasons of either not having March Madness, or having no fans in arenas, we are back to having a full house and completing the season and properly crowning men’s basketball champion. But to be honest I’m not that excited about it.
I grew up in the hey days of Georgetown with the Late Big John Thompson, Jim Boheim at Syracuse, Coach K at Duke, and many other iconic coaches and players that played and coached during that time. Players stayed in school two or three seasons, and some of them even stayed in school to graduate and were four year players.
Leaving early was the exception back then, where now if a great player even stays two seasons it’s almost sacrilege. There’s a video of Carmelo Anthony explaining how he wanted to stay at Syracuse a second year after winning the National Championship. Because he was enjoying the campus life, but his Coach Jim Boheim who would benefit from him staying, implored him to leave.
The one and done rule where players have to be out of school only one year before entering the NBA draft has done much to water down both the NBA product and college basketball. When your best players leave after one year, you don’t get to go into a second year with a growing nucleus that has NCAA tournament experience.
You’re not able to grow a Michigan Fab Five, or a group like what Duke had with Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, and Grant Hill that were pretty much in the Final Four during the entire tenure at Duke.
From a fan perspective it usually takes a year or two to get to know players, if they are leaving after one year, you never get familiar or attached to them. The NBA draft used to be full of players that we knew from two or three years of being in school.
Guys like Iverson, Shaq, Ewing, Lew Al Cindor that became Kareem Abdul Jabbar, we knew them well because of their regular season and NCAA tournament exploits. Now by the time we get to the tourney, many casual fans, don’t know any of the players, or who is really good, or who to watch for.
The tournament and March Madness is where most fans start to pay attention to College Basketball. So we more or less are watching teams we didn’t really watch during the regular season, we’re filling out brackets, according to seeding, and just taking guesses because most of us have not been paying attention all season.
If we are being honest, the tournament is the most anti-climactic sporting event in all of team sports. The excitement of March Madness and the NCAA tournament isn’t really about who is winning the championship.
The excitement is about the first weekend, and really about the first two days, the Thursday and Friday because of the sheer number of games, and all of the big upsets. Once we are down to the Sweet Sixteen, that excitement about upsets has mostly gone away, and there generally have not been great Blue Blood teams or big stars to keep our attention.
With Coack K retiring after this season, the era of the Blue Blood college basketball giants will die with him.
Some would argue that this era of college basketball is exciting because of parity, and you never know who is going to win it all. I’m arguing that there’s too much parity because there are no dominant teams, or stars. We are watching a battle of mediocre, watered down teams with no stars, and it’s not about who is the actual best team anymore, it’s about who can get hot and win a few games in March.
I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon but this sorry version of March Madness can get off my lawn, I’m not into it.