Solomon is a senior advertising major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every March, the NCAA tournament becomes the most popular and most important event in sports. Next to the Super Bowl, one would be hard-pressed to find an occasion that is followed with more fervor by the American public than March Madness. Frankly, I would rather hear Marv Alpert call a game instead of having Dick Vitale scream it at me.
I am bothered when I hear someone yell “Jimmer!” when taking a shot instead of “Ray-Ray!” Come on now, Jimmer? What happened to Kobe? Ray Allen? Heck, Kyle Korver?
I don’t appreciate when Kevin Durant tweets that Jimmer Fredette is the “best scorer in the country.” No Kevin, by scoring 28 points per game in the NBA, YOU are the best scorer in the country.
Although I grudgingly accept that NCAA basketball is more popular than the NBA, I really don’t understand why. After all, it was Bill Russell’s Celtics that showed us what it was like to put winning above everything else by compiling an unprecedented eight consecutive NBA championships from 1959-1966 (he has 11 rings total, by the way).
It was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird that showcased the magnificence of competition by participating in what still is the most personal, professional rivalry I have ever seen and, in the process, taking the NBA to new heights during the 1980s. And of course, wasn’t it Michael Jordan who made us all believe we could fly?
When comparing NCAA and NBA ball, I really don’t think it is close. Think of NCAA basketball as Neo in the first “Matrix.” Sure he can fight, jump buildings and dodge bullets. But he gets his butt kicked in by Agent Smith and still doesn’t convince you that Morpheus couldn’t take him one-on-one. NBA basketball is comparable to Neo in “The Matrix: Reloaded.” His powers are fully realized: he can fly, stop bullets in mid-air and fight 10,000 Agent Smiths at once. (Note: “The Matrix” as a FILM is better than “The Matrix: Reloaded,” but that’s an op-ed for another day.)
Anyway, here is my take on the arguments people use in favor of college basketball.
Hello? Upsets?! March Madness is more exciting:
Sure, with one-game eliminations, upsets are bound to happen. But that doesn’t mean that the NBA’s system isn’t just as upset prone. In 2007 the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors upset the No. 1 Mavericks, which the year before had been in the NBA finals. And of course, the 1994 No. 8 Nuggets’ upset of the No.1 Sonics is the standard for out of nowhere, how-did-that-happen surprises.
Although the NBA playoff system is set to seven games, every game is intensely fought for, and there is nothing like an all-in game seven that decides the series. Last year’s game seven between the Lakers and Celtics was absolutely electric. And with guys like Kobe, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, buzzer beaters can always happen.
Unlike the NBA, the college game is selfless:
OK, NBA players are being paid millions of dollars to play ball, and there are players who pick stats over wins. That being said, consistently successful teams that compete for championships have players who put the team first and strive to be a part of something bigger then themselves. They may not represent a school but they represent our nation’s greatest cities, giving its residents reason to be proud of their hometowns. Like the NBA, college teams that sacrifice personal statistics and play the right way, usually come out on top. Which is why Duke’s Jon Scheyer is a champion and Michael Beasley is not.
Like pro clubs, power conference teams also reap incredible benefits. Let’s not pretend like many of these NCAA stars aren’t playing for just as many (future) millions as current NBA players make. These kids aspire to make a living from basketball, too.
College basketball is prettier to watch. I mean, they run set plays!
Wrong. Running a zone defense doesn’t make the college game prettier or more complex than the NBA. NCAA games are riddled with missed layups, bricked jump shots and fumbled passes that aren’t as common in the NBA. Not to mention the exhilarating final scores of 53-4.
The NBA showcases athletes with fully developed games, who were born to play the highest level of basketball. From the physical dominance of LeBron James to Kobe’s refined game, it’s an honor and privilege to watch the best in the world play.
NBA offenses are more direct with basic picks and rolls, inside-outside perimeter play and post-ups. Defensively, the pro coaches utilize complex schemes to stop players like LeBron, Kobe and Carmelo. Watching these coaches counter each other’s moves in a series is comparable to a chess match.
So please, enjoy March, but leave the real magic to the professionals in April.