- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 19 November 2014
When it comes to college sports, two sports generally get the bulk of attention: football and basketball. Each sport has their arguments as to why they should be considered the king of college athletics, but is there really much of a competition?
A college basketball game is simply one of the most entertaining events a person can attend. From the tempo of teams going back and forth up the court, to the regular season spanning from November to March, to the many conference tournaments, to finally, the big dance itself, the NCAA tournament, college basketball has a lot going for it.
With Monmouth's men's basketball team tipping off its season this Friday in West Virginia, let's take a look at why the madness of college basketball makes it the number one sport in collegiate athletics.
Basketball, unlike football, has the advantage of having the action continue after every score. So while there are breaks for TV timeouts and fouls, basketball typically embodies a lot of energy. This represents the very nature of college: non-stop energy and fun. Watching a college basketball game gets intense when teams are going back and forth, trading baskets. This allows the college atmosphere to shine through as the student body is on their feet cheering for another basket every other minute, while cheering for the defense to block a shot or grab a rebound in between offensive possessions. When the game comes towards its conclusion this pace tends to slow, as the team that is behind tends to foul to remain in it. This doesn't kill the energy however, as things become even more riveting with every foul shot. This feeling of being on the edge of one's seat compliments the high energy felt throughout the game.
Another big part of college basketball is conference play. Typically, a team will play every team in its conference twice throughout the regular season. This leads to many entertaining rivalry games, as these teams are competing for the same goal of a conference title. The energetic atmosphere doubles when a conference rival comes to town, such as when Iona or Siena comes into the MAC this season. These games feel more important, and that is because they really are. A conference record is vital to a college basketball team's success and its placement in the conference tournament.
Not only is it more important, but it leads to many big-time matchups when it comes to the big conferences. This year the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is loaded with many high profile teams, such as Duke, UNC and Louisville. Having any combination of these teams face off with each other, plus other big time ACC schools, leads to a very fun portion of the schedule to finish the regular season.
College basketball doesn't have one postseason tournament, but a whole bunch of postseason tournaments. From each conference having their own tournament, to the NCAA tournament, postseason college basketball is one of the most nerve-racking and exciting sporting events one can watch. It starts with the conference tournaments, which puts a spot in the Big Dance on the line for every team in the conference.
So even if a college had an average season, they can still reach the ultimate goal of dancing in March. It is not easy by any stretch though; as conference tournament games are typically knock out fights that go right down to the wire. This adds to the excitement of watching these particular games. It doesn't matter if it is a big conference like the Big 10, or a small conference like the MAAC; all conference tournaments have intrigue.
The best part of conference tournaments is the fact that they lead to the biggest tournament of them all, the NCAA tournament. It all starts on Selection Sunday, where colleges hold events to see the reveal of the bracket. Some teams and their fellow classmates watch on wondering whom they will be playing. Others sit and wonder if they will even hear their names called at all.
Once the bracket is revealed, almost everyone I know, whether they followed the college basketball season or not, will fill out a bracket. The quality of these games are generally better than the regular season do to the lose-and-you're-out format. With each round of games the field is cut in half, and the importance and excitement is doubled. Nothing is better than the madness of March.
In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance when Lehigh defeated Duke, one of the most thrilling upsets in college basketball history. I have never enjoyed an atmosphere like I did that day, and only another NCAA tournament game has the ability to top it.
The journey to hearing Monmouth's name called on Selection Sunday begins Friday. Let the madness begin.