Now that March Madness has come to an end, I would like to reflect on how maddening the tournament actually was, and why college basketball is turning into an unflattering product.
Upsets are a huge part of what makes college basketball worth watching in March. This year, however, they were hard to come by.
Besides the two 14-seeds that pulled off upsets in the first round, nothing stood out to me as far as exciting or mind-blowing. The streak of a 12-seed beating a five was broken this year. It’s the first time since 2007 that a 12-seed didn’t advance to the round of 32, and that was disappointing.
Kentucky losing might have been shocking to most, but I have come to expect that from a team filled with inexperienced players and a coach, John Calipari, who has come up short of a title in more than one occurrence.
Which leads into my next NCAA basketball frustration. The one-and-done rule is hurting the sport more than ever and is something the NCAA really needs to look into for the benefit of the sport.
Kentucky has obviously mastered recruiting for this rule and continues to dominate the regular season, but besides Duke’s most recent title run, the teams who are winning it all are the ones who have veterans leading the way.
What the NCAA should consider is following in the footsteps of college baseball and allow the athletes to be drafted out of high school and then decide whether they will go pro. If they elect to go to college, they must stick around for three years before entering the draft.
This might get messy at times because of players declining to be a part of subpar NBA teams, but many will take the money as an 18-year-old, and college basketball will benefit from it.
Even if they make the athletes stick with their original choice to go pro, the ones who do decide to go the college route should not be allowed to leave for the draft until after they have spent at least three years removed from high school, the way college football does now.
Fans of college athletics support teams rather than individuals in most cases. What sells tickets is being a part of the history and tradition of the programs.
To make the regular season more competitive and more meaningful, the NCAA needs to stop giving automatic bids to the conference tournament champions and teams need to earn the right to play.
If a team wanted to, it could forfeit every game in the regular season and rest their players, then when it comes to the conference tournament, they could dominate and win it, clinching a berth in the NCAA tournament. If teams have to compete for a limited number of spots in their individual tournament, the regular-season games would mean even more on a nightly basis.
Officiating was also a nonstop topic of conversation throughout the NCAA Tournament, and when that happens, it’s usually not good for the game. After each broadcast and even during them, the officials were criticized, and in some cases rightfully so. How the referees don’t get to see the same replays as the viewers do at home still blows my mind. What’s the point of replay if you still can’t get the call right?
I know the TV ratings set a record for viewers, but that’s not too hard when you have each game on multiple channels. When it was just on CBS and not TBS, truTV and so on, the games seemed more intriguing.
Overall, the state of college basketball has continued to decrease, and unless someone steps in and cleans it up, it won’t get any better. To allow this sport to continue on this way, to me, is madness.