Wright Leaning: My March ‘Madness’

OPINION – I recently walked into the office at work, in March, wearing my Miami Heat hat. I am an NBA fan and I own hats for several different NBA teams. I know that with the inexplicable hatred that exists towards the Heat I’ll always catch some grief when I wear this hat. As I walked down the hall my coworker scoffed at me. Assuming I was going to hear some negative comment about LeBron or rigged games I turned around to hear the complaint. Turned out, I was oblivious to the real problem: NCAA conference tournaments were underway.

In other words the beloved March Madness had begun and I had the nerve to continue with my focus on the NBA. I know I am in the minority, but it’s just not right. The NBA is more interesting than college basketball and the NBA Playoffs are much more interesting than the NCAA tournament.

First of all, the point that none of you want to hear, because you don’t have any argument against it: NBA players are better. They’re bigger, faster, and stronger. They also provide more fun and entertaining plays.

Go watch a few college games and count the number of power dunks and alley-oops then go watch a few NBA games. It’ll become clear really fast.

Comparing this year’s NCAA bracket to what the NBA playoff bracket would look like if the season had just ended:

There’s a much higher percentage of NBA games that intrigue me in the first round. In the NBA it’s true that the top seeded Miami vs. Milwaukee match-up doesn’t bring much intrigue, but the possibility of the top-seeded Western Conference San Antonio Spurs facing the Los Angeles Lakers fascinates me. Conversely, when I look at the four No. 1 seeds and their matchups, not only can I not tell you the name of a single starter for any of the four 16 seeded teams, but when I looked at the bracket and saw that Indiana is going to play the winner of a play-in game between LIU-B and JMU I didn’t even have a clue where either one of those two stands or even where the schools are located.

Then there’s the idea that NBA players are around long enough to build a history in the NBA, while the best college players only play one year. This history allows us to get to know them and become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. It also creates some fun stories such as James Harden leading the Rockets against his former team, the Thunder or Joe Johnson and the Nets taking on his old team, the Hawks. Never mind the fact that that we could watch a seven seed in the Celtics upset the Pacers, and who won’t watch if Derek Rose comes back to lead the Bulls against the New York Knicks.

That’s just the first round. Consider further, I’m glad that the first round of the NCAA tournament is a one loss deal. Honestly, we always hear arguments about more teams that should have made it in, but the truth is half of them should be left out. Not only has a 16-seeded team never beaten a No. 1 seed, but no team in the lower half of the seedings, 9-16, has ever won the tournament.

As the post season progresses, the NBA continues to be more enjoyable because the great matchups don’t end after one night. We get to watch them play several times. However, in the NCAA tournament we only get the matchup once. Think back a couple of years ago when Duke beat Butler in the Championship game by two points. Who,besides Duke fans, didn’t want to see that matchup a few more times?

Which brings me to the most important point: The NBA playoffs are much more likely to crown the best overall team as the champion, while the NCAA probably gets it right … sometimes. As evidence, I submit that if the NBA finals were a one-game series the last two trophies would have been given to the wrong team. Two years ago the Heat won game one, but the Dallas Mavericks ended the series by winning three games in a row. After they won three in a row, it was difficult for anyone to say that they weren’t the better team that year.

Again, last year, the Oklahoma City Thunder won the first game in the finals, and in a one-loss tournament they would have been crowned the champions; but having seen the Heat come back and win four straight games, it was again difficult for anyone to say that they weren’t the better team last year.

Yes, it can be interesting to see the underdog win a game or two, but I want to see the best teams playing in the end. Not only is it more fun to watch the more talented teams play, but what good is a tournament if it doesn’t produce the best team?

 

Leo Wright is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his own and not representative of St. George News.

Email: lwright@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews @LeoWright13

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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Posted in Columnists, Opinion / Columns, SportsTagged ,

1 Comment

  • Dan Lester March 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I love college basketball and football, but couldn’t care less about most of the pro basketball. We live for March Madness, the REAL March Madness. Not the NBA stuff that doesn’t end until summer. To each his own I guess. Are you sure you’re not bitter because no Utah teams made the Big Dance?

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