Dec. 18, 2016
The State of College Basketball Isn't Up for Debate
Here I am, all cozied up in my man cave, sweatpants on, obnoxious Arby’s commercials blaring in my face, tuned into a tilt between the Wildcats of Arizona and the Antelopes of Grand Canyon. I picked the game up at the beginning of the second half expecting to see Arizona’s bench get significant minutes in one of Arizona’s last “buy” games.
To the surprise and pleasure of my groggy 12:30 AM mind, there was actually a game that featured a team in Arizona that I wanted to know something about, playing a team that had nothing to lose. What more can you ask for from a mid-December West Coast game?
For those of you who deem yourself NBA fans and find yourself reading this article: Welcome to the superior game! The game in which effort is obvious, heart is displayed night in and night out, and fans aren’t fair weather, or in the case of the Memphis Grizzlies, only show up when LeBron is supposed to be in town.
This brings me to the matter at hand.
Through the first month-ish of the season this college basketball season is shaping up to be the kind of season that could make all of the doomsday predictors delete their Twitter accounts, stop trolling and recede back in their caves of despair and allow us to enjoy the beauty that is college basketball in peace.
To be fair, those who did the moaning and groaning (looking at you Jay Bilas and Dan Dakich) that mayyybeeeeee, posssssiblyyyyyy, in the smallllllllest way possible affected the rule changes and points of emphasis – the game is thriving and some of the changes you lobbied for have indeed made it better.
That’s the last props you’ll get from me.
Take a moment to think about the past few seasons and the narratives that surrounded them.
The “Year of The Freshman”, the “Year of Kentucky” and “The Year of the Upperclassman/ESPN’s love for Ben Simmons that was so obvious and annoying it made NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame football seem unbiased and entertaining”
Now take those narratives and throw them out the window. For the first time in forever, the college game has something for everybody. No longer do we have just one thing to watch or one style to be stuck with. We have versatility. We have depth. Almost like a great basketball team.
Say you wake up one morning and think, “Hmm, I wonder who the first overall pick is going to be?” Lucky for you, this year features a group touted as the most talented collection of one and done-ers in recent history. We’ve got guys like Malik Monk, Josh Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Jason Tatum and Markelle Fultz to get you warmed up with TJ Leaf, Kyle Guy and BAM ADEYABO ready to make you fall in love with basketball all over again.
Oh, now you say you’re more into soul crushing defense and upperclassman domination? Lucky for you we have Villanova, Virginia and Louisville teed up for you and ready to roll.
And if you’re a new fan looking to tune into a super entertaining track meet disguised as basketball, look no further than North Carolina, BYU or Oklahoma State.
This season has the bluebloods your grandfather watched (UCLA, North Carolina, Indiana), the perennial underdogs you can’t help but pull for (Butler, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s) and the Super Villain team(s) you love to hate (Duke, yeah pretty much just Duke)
BUT!!!!!! The most important thing, above all of these other great story lines and fascinating players: THE ACTUAL BASKETBALL HAS BEEN FREAKING AWESOME.
In the aforementioned Arizona vs Grand Canyon game, it was apparent that the coaches were being more hands off, the players were out there making plays and using their freakish athleticism. NBA fans, as much as I hate to say it, our game is actually beginning to look more like yours. More offense, more stars. Less systems, less choke hold defense.
If you pair those factors, with the absurd amount of talent spanning states, conferences and Gonzaga and Davidson’s Euro league rosters, you have what could be one of the best college basketball seasons in recent memory.
If you find yourself with nothing to do on a random winter Wednesday night like I did, have no fear! You can turn on your TV to any one of a million different channels and find a game that piques your interest, scratches that itch and makes your feel warm and fuzzy because guess what: COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS BACK BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Note: Brad Calipari has received all my votes for most likely to still sleep in his parents bed at night.