Monday, March 16, 2015

Care About College Basketball? Root For Iowa State, Villanova, Notre Dame and North Carolina

The NCAA tournament this season will determine a champion (like always), leave you fuming over a pile of torn-up bracket confetti (like always) and reduce your Thursday work production to Tommy Callahan levels (like always). What is different is that this year’s tournament, after a season of noise about how to make college basketball more aesthetically appealing, will provide a referendum on style.
Once they put aside educational allegiances and office-pool interests, college basketball fans should root for the handful of dangerous teams who play with a combination of pace and skill that doesn’t require toothpicks to keep eyelids open. Winners spawn imitators. If those teams do well, it may convince coaches to reverse trends that have undermined the sport.
“College basketball is slower, more grinding, more physical and more, well, offensive than it has been in a long, long time,” Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis wrote early this month. Scoring dropped to its lowest point since 1952. Television ratings plunged. The end of the game, more often than not, turned into a hideous menagerie of senseless timeouts and desperate fouls.
North Carolina’s blue-blood status may make the Tar Heels difficult to root for, but Coach Roy Williams always has been a proponent for exciting basketball. His athletic Tar Heels lack shooting this season, but they always push the tempo. You’re never forced to watch North Carolina hammer the ball at the top of the key while the shot clock ticks down.


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