Pumpkin Pie and College Hoops

I realize that a lot of fans don’t plan to start caring about college basketball until March, but there are some great reasons to get into it now. What I am telling you is that if the football games go south on us today, we DO have alternatives! With 351 programs in 32 conferences, Division 1 basketball offers volume. There are teams in every state except Alaska meaning that games can be found on TV almost all hours of the day, especially around Thanksgiving.

Now you might be thinking that, with 351 teams, the talent must be watered down, but the age spectrum of college players acts as an equalizer. Sure, the top teams have the best 18-year-olds in the country—”kids” who will be getting drafted into the NBA in the Spring—but the smaller programs have 22-year-olds who are more experienced and more physically mature. It makes for some very interesting contests because well-executed team basketball can negate the advantage of sheer talent. Four years of age difference mostly doesn’t matter in the NBA, but in college, you can definitely see it. Take Wichita State for example. They don’t have a single player who will be selected in next year’s NBA draft, but they’re ranked 6th in the country and are a team that no one wants to see in their bracket come March because they have experience and play solid team basketball.

Even casual fans know that college basketball thrives on the March Madness tournament, but, in recent years, lots of preseason tournaments have been added too, and single elimination tournaments are the best thing about sports! In 2017, for example, 13 tournaments have been completed since November 16th and there are 7 going on today with 2 more starting tomorrow. I wrote earlier this week about how difficult it is to put together compelling matchups in college football, but college hoops suffers from no such problem. These tournaments make games that would never happen otherwise. Another interesting facet of these tournaments is the locations where they are played. If you go channel surfing this afternoon you can see games from the Bahamas to Anchorage and from Brooklyn to Anaheim. There are 27 college basketball games on the menu today, so let us all give thanks!