Sports Opinion & Analysis

Is It Competitive, Or Is It Just Bad?

In College on March 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

It was said going into the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that this year might be the most unpredictable tournament in recent history. After only a few rounds, I think it’s safe to say that the general opinion was not only correct with their modest predictions, but that this year might actually be the craziest tournament ever.

Eliminated early were teams that were supposed to be the closest things to sure bets; Georgetown, Kansas State, Gonzaga, even Belmont.

"The entire country is going to hate us for busting their bracket..."

Question: How much does the entire country hate Georgetown for busting their bracket? Answer: A lot.

Advancing were schools almost no one ever heard of: Lasalle and Florida Gulf Coast University.

How obscure is Florida Gulf Coast University? Here’s the opening paragraph to their Wikipedia article: Florida Gulf Coast University, also known as FGCU, is a coeducational public research university located just south of the Southwest Florida International Airport in the South Fort Myers region of unincorporated Lee County,Florida, United States.

Apparently, the only people who look up FGCU are people driving to FGCU, and they’ve driven past it so many times they need to pull over and Google which side of the airport it’s on.

"Why were we going here again?"

“Why were we going here again?”

If you’ve been able to slack off at work long enough to watch a game or two, you would have quickly realized that the reason this year’s tournament is so crazy, so unpredictable, is obvious. Simply put, college basketball just isn’t that good. In fact, it sort of sucks.

Take the Cal/Syracuse game on Saturday for an example: Cal was down by eight in the final seconds but were making a valiant, albeit unlikely comeback. The Bears were able to score, play solid defense as Syracuse tried to inbound, then got possession back underneath their own hoop. What happened next should have been a relatively easy play ; the inbounding Cal player only had to throw the ball to his teammate out by the three-point line. Instead, the ball was thrown way over said teammate’s head, and went right out of bounds.

Syracuse for the win!

Take the Kansas/North Carolina game for another example. In the first four minutes, Kansas was 1-of-5 shooting, and North Carolina was 1-of-9, and during that run, each team consecutively missed two completely wide open layups. These are layups, the basic fundamental play were you’re so close, you just bounce the ball off the backboard or drop it through the hoop.

Oh, and Kansas was the top ranked team in that division. North Carolina number nine.

"And I thought watching the Bobcats was bad..."

“I should’ve just stayed and watched the Bobcats.”

Yeah, these are only tiny insights of an entire game, an entire tournament, but still, such are the metaphors for college basketball.

Maybe that’s a bit harsh. There have been some great moments of course, and exciting plays. Take Ohio State’s three pointer to win over Iowa State with .5 seconds left. Take any game FGCU has played in. Or Wichita State.  The only problem is, just because those games were close/exciting/competitive, doesn’t mean the actual game  was any good. While this may be some of the most exciting and unpredictable tournament play in recent history, it’s also some of the worst actually played.

And that’ because One-and-Done is killing college hoops.

"Man, I'm happy this tournament is over. My old knees couldn't take much more."

“Man, I’m glad this thing’s over. My old knees couldn’t take much more.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the One-and-Done, it’s when a college player plays one year at the collegiate level and then bolts to the NBA once the season’s over. It’s a byproduct of the NBA rule that states a player must be at least 19-years-old, and one year removed from high school, before they can declare for the draft.

The rule was meant to protect the integrity of the NBA, and encourage players to look at college before a professional basketball career. Instead, it’s made a joke out of college hoops. It’s robbed college basketball of its best and brightest stars.

"I would tell them to stay in college as long as they can. Oh, and to grow a mustach."

“I would tell them to stay in college as long as they can. As loooooooooooooong as they can. Oh, and to grow a mustache.”

You might argue that One-and-Done has finally leveled the playing field. That it’s opened up large, historically dominant programs to their shortcomings. That the little guy can finally compete.

And I would say, sure, you’re right, but also think about this: There was a reason those programs have been as historically good as they have. There was a reason the best of the best went to those schools. It’s because those schools played to win championships.

If you ask any coach, that’s technically still the case, but for the player it’s now because that program has the best chance of getting that player into the big leagues after a quick vacation for a year at “Animal House.” And while the big programs continually have roll out new talent, and have to compete each year with a new batch of 18-year-olds, smaller programs like the FGCU can allow their players to mature a few years, and take on the youngsters. Does that mean the players from the smaller schools are better than the big-name teenagers on the premier rosters? No, it just means they’re older.

And if you don’t think that argument doesn’t carry any weight, go ask OJ Mayo and Yi Jianlian what it was like finally playing against the big boys after playing babies their entire lives. Don’t worry, Shabazz Muhammed will find out soon enough.

"Alright, I'm old!"

“I get it, I’m old!”

One-and-Done has got to go. Personally, I favor an NFL-like system that requires players to spend at least three years playing at the collegiate level. It gives them more time to mature themselves, and mature their game before hitting the big time. It will make the NBA better, and for the Month of March, it will give the Big Dance a much better product on the court.

But until then, enjoy the rest of the tournament. It might not be the best basketball to watch, but at least it’s making for great soon-to-be-televisised-underdog-movies.

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  1. […] to Left Field’s own Jonathan Danielson put it well last week: the quality of play in this year’s NCAA tournament has kind of stunk. Marquette just scored 39 […]

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