Singing Loudly: Bracket Breaking

Singing Loudly

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bracket Breaking

Ok, so I had Kansas winning the entire thing during this years NCAA tournament. Obviously my bracket is cooked. It's done and the rest of this tourney is nothing but a very depressing reminder of what could have been.

I'm trying to come up with why Vermont (a team that deserves all the attention they are getting), Utah, Bucknell, et al are so easily beating higher seeds. It's easy to say that it's just something like the luck of the underdog. But I think that it goes deeper than that into the realm of there is little real talent in the college basketball level anymore.

This point was sort of made today by Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post:

One could make the case, I suppose, that the talent is spread so incredibly thin across the country that nobody is really any good. This came to mind when watching Villanova go without scoring a basket the last dozen minutes and shoot 3 for 30 in the second half. If there's any theme to the tournament through two days, though, it's the closeness of the games, almost all the games. West Virginia's victory over Creighton is the only buzzer beater so far, but it would be silly to click away because everything's tight.

Louisville, another popular office-pool pick, led by a measly point, 33-32, at the half. The Cardinals did win, 68-62, but not before trailing by a point in the final minutes. One might think there's a big difference between Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisville, basketball royalty the last 25 years. But there's not much of one.

I think this sport would be more enjoyable if the NBA set a minimum age requirement. Then the top high school players wouldn't be drafted into the NBA (Kobe, Amare Stoudemire, and Lebron James to name a few), and other very capable young players would leave college after a year or two to play in the NBA.

This might also make it so that my bracket won't get ruined for me.


It's a fine theory until you take into account 1. the % of people who go pro out of college & high school are but a drop in the bucket compared to the total pool (and going pro after two years only cuts the time on a team by a year over the "freshman ineligiblity" that was long the standard; and 2. the actual quality of these games hasn't declined much; if anything, it's gotten better.

The tournament draws the top 64 teams. But that's still 64 teams. How good can all of them be? Watch tournament games from the 1980s and you won't see a better brand of basketball (I hold up ESPN Classic as exhibit A for the defense.)

Frankly, it's just more of the same, tired sports cliche that Wilbon's guilty of...after all, nostalgia is a prime mover in Heisenbergian uncertainty.

Let's note, too, that the players who are absent, and so hurting college basketball are the same players who are present and, according to many, making basketball hard to watch.

By the way, I wonder why it is that the US can create plenty of folks to compete in football (which requires at least 3x as many players to fill a squad) and baseball (which requires at least 2x as many) but somehow can't create, out of its enormous basketball-playing populace, enough players to make college basketball interesting.

Too, the number of people playing basketball in an organized, focus-ed fashion (thank you AAU, you bastard) is much higher than it was even 15 years ago. Ostensibly, we're creating MORE, better players out of this system, which should fight the minute dilution of folks going pro earlier.

What do you think?

By Blogger Spencer, at 8:07 PM, March 19, 2005  

Oh, as for the age requirement, here's a good article on the economics...

By Blogger Spencer, at 8:07 PM, March 19, 2005 my first comment I meant "making PRO BASKETBALL hard to watch"...doesn't much make sense as I wrote it.

Sorry for the triplicate.

By Blogger Spencer, at 8:08 PM, March 19, 2005  

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