March Madness is underway. So naturally, I'm here to be a hater. Here are some truths you may or may not have accepted while watching the NCAA Tournament.
You don't really want the underdogs to win
Sure, the excitement of the first weekend of the tournament is on par with any sporting event in the world. That little 14-seed you swore was a good pick only to you – when really, you listened to analysts tell you about players and coaches you've never seen before – beating that "overrated" 3-seed with a last-second shot made for riveting television. However, the more of these upsets that occur, the higher the probability of unknown teams playing.
A major reason why sports events register high television ratings are that casual fans are able to recognize the players and teams that are playing. Smaller schools lack star power in prestige, players and coach. Eventually, the thought of watching the university of Arkansas-Little Rock well shift from "can they do it?" to "I don't want to watch some guys I've never heard of."
If you want proof, let me know in the comments the last time you watched Lehigh play. Moving on...
The atmosphere masks the lack of good basketball
These first two truths are loosely tied together. The lights, the cheering crowds, "The ball is tipped...," and the rest of the pageantry are what make these three weeks in March the visual spectacle they are. However, let me remind you of a brutal but factual ideal: about two percent of all the players in the Tournament are good enough to play in the pros. Most of these games, even the high-seed matchups, will have a couple of NBA prospects between both teams, at most. This means that the product on the floor will not be as clean.
This truth is for those who believe college basketball is better than NBA basketball. No. No, it is not.
The atmosphere in the various arenas may be more hype, but there is no way that better players don't play better basketball. That is why regular season games between two highly ranked teams are shown on national TV more often than games between smaller schools. The more prestigious schools recruit most of the more talented players.
So, while you're watching the newest Cinderella team incinerate your bracket, remember that the farther that team advances, the more likely their next game will be tough to watch. Oh, and a close game is not necessarily a good game. Just because the game goes down to the wire does not mean the play has not been sloppy, thus making it difficult to watch the entire 40+ minutes.
Duke winning is good for the tournament
I am one of the many on the side of college basketball fans who are not fond of the Blue Devils – their coach, Mike Krzyzewski being the main reason. I get the vitriol they receive. I even get the blind hatred of seeing those four letters on any player's chest.
But admit it: sports are boring without villains. And the more the villain wins, especially if said villain stamps out an underdog draped in the hope of the people, the bigger the draw to the villain's next contest.
Offense wins championships
You've heard the adage about defense often enough. And yes, part of a championship team's makeup consists of the ability to defend. But the most basic and tangible way to affect the outcome of the game is to put the ball in the basket. Going back to at least the 2001 Duke squad, no champion has averaged less than 70 points per game.
That may not seem like an overwhelming amount, but everyone who somewhat extensively watches college basketball knows that 70 points is too high of an aim for some teams. The championship teams are not bogged down by the perils of poor shooting. After all, the champion is usually one of the more talented teams in the country, with players who can consistently score on vaunted college defense. (See how that works?) In the words of a famous uncle, "the game has always been about buckets."
Before you make me a shoe-in for Hater of the Year at the next Player Haters' Ball, understand that I love college basketball and its showcase tournament. I keep the app on my phone and tablet throughout the year just so I don't have to re-download it again. I have not missed a tip in at least a decade, and I scream loudly when Little U takes down a powerhouse school. But I will not neglect the truths sports fans overlook while they're enthralled in March's Madness.
Happy Tournament, everyone.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.