Bloguin Basketball Roundtable: NCAA vs NBA, Part 2

ncaa vs nba

It is an age-old debate among basketball aficionados – which brand of hoops is best, the NBA or the NCAA.  While there is no right or wrong answer to this question – it basically comes down to personal preference – that doesn’t stop people from having very strong opinions on the subject.  In that vein we present to you the latest Bloguin Basketball Roundtable – NCAA vs NBA.

Participants in this battle royale are Jeff Fox of The Hoops Manifesto, Don from With Malice, a Bloguin newcomer in Ezra of The Purple and Gold Blog, Dave “College Wolf” Kelsey of TWolves Blog, David Pustilink from Da Bulls’ Eye, Gene Zarnick of Favre Dollar Footlongs and A Stern Warning’s mookie.

Check out Part One here.

Dave Kelsey:Maybe it’s just a personal preference thing?  Yeah, some of the games in the NCAA tournament are close and exciting, but a lot of them are blowouts too.  And those games just suck.  Unlike some parts of the NBA regular season, the playoffs are almost wall-to-wall competitiveness and top-level talent from start to finish… for best of seven games.  And think this is corny if you must, but part of me feels bad for all the “student-athletes” being exploited.  I mean, look at the billions of dollars they are generating, and most of them will never seen a penny of it.  At least I don’t feel bad when I’m doing NBA Playoff pick ’em contests.

Jeff Fox: You honestly think about the student-athletes being exploited when you watch the NCAA, Dave?  Wow – you’re a better man than I am!

I’m glad Gene mentioned the atmosphere (from Part One).  The atmosphere at a NCAA game is head and shoulders better than its NBA counterpart.  The student crowds, the bands, the cheerleaders, the smaller arenas all adds up to an electric atmosphere, whether you are attending the game in person or watching on TV.  Pretty much every game is like that in the NCAA, whether it is a regular season game or the tournament.  Compared to the NCAA, NBA arenas resemble a morgue – even the PA announcer and scoreboard have to encourage people to cheer and make noise.  You don’t see (or need) that in the NCAA.

Dave K: I mean, it’s not like I am consumed with those thoughts, but yes, as a former student-(intramural)athlete I do think of it often.  I mean, watching the games I think about how cool it would be to be in those situations.  I then also think about all the school and whatnot most of them have to miss.  Whenever money is mentioned, I think, wow its crazy that those kids aren’t seeing any of it and some suits are getting insanely rich.  Whenever I hear about “scandals” and players getting in trouble for driving around someone else’s vehicle, or say maybe someone handed them $500 bucks or whatever; I think, wow… they are getting busted for that despite not seeing any of the billions of dollars they generate? So yes, call me old fashioned or whatever, but I do think about all the college kids being exploited, especially since the vast majority will never benefit or play at a higher level.

Oh, and the NBA is nowhere near a morgue for the playoffs.  The crowds are crazy, and some places are even more jacked than a lot of the NCAA tourney games.

Don: I find it amazing that you can state that the level of play doesn’t impact watchability (once again, Part One).  Some NCAA games are often so poorly executed as to be excruciating to watch.  The inability to play anything but zone defense means that team-after-team-after-team just sit back and jack up three point shots, inadvisable or not. 

I can assure you, for the casual fan – one who has no attachment to a particular college team – it’s not good to watch.  I mean, I *get* your fandom, it’s something that is more visceral than being an NBA-fan… after all, you have a deeper connection to a college team.  But to argue that it’s a better experience is to simply get lost in the haze of your own experience.

And to say it’s “March Madness is the greatest tournament in all of sports.” is simply incorrect.  The Football World Cup is sport at a greater fever-pitch than anything else, and it’s the pinnacle of its sport.

Gene Zarnick: Level of play affects it somewhat, but it depends what you’re watching for.  If you want the whole package then the NCAA is a much better game.  Have you ever watched Little League World Series Baseball?  Those kids talent level are well below many leagues, but they are still great to watch because of the other factors involved.  I don’t have a rooting interest for a particular team, but the drama is what makes the games great.

It’s not about fandom at all.  It’s about appreciating each individual sport for what it is and understanding that some of the differences that may be viewed as negatives by the skeptics make the game even more great.  People assume that the professional leagues are the best sports, but that’s not always the case, and especially isn’t with college basketball.

The World Cup doesn’t touch March Madness.  The World Cup would not be as great if it was annually.  March Madness goes every year and still has as much excitement or more then any other playoff in all of sports. 

Don: When you declare that March Madness is a better event than the World Cup, incredulity is strained.  It might be better for a small group of people, but that is completely about being a fan.  The World Cup touches literally billions of people, and elicits an even greater zeal than March Madness.  Nations upon nations hang on this.

Anyway: that’s a tangent… to continue: ’tis interesting that you’d argue this point, especially given the excitement in the NBA at this very minute, with the playoffs looming.  Add to that a spate of nail-biting finishes, and you’ve got an exciting product.  And not just exciting to a select few who have ties to a particular educational institution.

lebron biting nails

Ezra: Having been to all kinds of sporting events that include NCAA games (basketball and football), NBA games, and FIFA games, I’d say to anybody who thinks NCAA games have no equal when it comes to the atmosphere and excitement of the tournament to go outside your comfort zone and experience more of what it is that you don’t think is as good as March Madness. To even say that the World Cup “doesn’t touch March Madness” means you haven’t been to any professional soccer game, and your assumptions are killing your credibility to support your fandom of the NCAA tournaments.

While it’s true that NBA games can get downright ugly sometimes when it comes to how the game of basketball is played, the quality of basketball, talent, plays, and coaching far outweighs NCAA basketball, which is generally awful basketball. I personally think the 35-second shot clock and zone defense keep it from being a better brand of basketball entertainment. But I still find myself watching it every season. However, in all of my years watching both brands of basketball (and hearing people debating which is better) I’m still not convinced NCAA basketball (or March Madness) is superior to anything else out there.

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto, The MMA Manifesto, & A Dry Heat.