Tuesday , Mar , 18 , 2008 Christopher Sells

Six Reasons I Love NCAA March Madness

Six Reasons I Love NCAA March MadnessI’ve spent quite a bit of time watching college ball lately. The NBA is and will always be my first love, but I still enjoy the NCAA variety, especially in March. Even if you’re not a fan, here are some reasons you should catch at least some of the remaining madness. 

Win or go home
This was the slogan for TNT’s playoff coverage a few years back, but they really mean it in college. While the NBA is designed to have the best team win it all based on a best-of-seven series, college ball only requires you to beat an opponent once. That means that if you’re going to try to be the best, you’d better bring your A game each time you step on the court. There’s no "we’ll get them next game" mentality.

Sometimes when I watch the NBA, I understand why some of the league’s opponents think that the players don’t really care. It’s because it’s true for more players than David Stern would like you to believe. This isn’t the case in the NCAA, where these kids approach the game as a passion instead of a job. There will be tremendous effort put forth in every game and there will be tears shed when games are lost. After all, these are young men still learning to deal with their emotions and having to do it on one of the largest stages there is.

Even if you haven’t seen a second of college hoops this year, I recommend that you fill out a bracket or 20. There’s not necessarily a need to research or take the advice of any of the experts, just go through and pick some teams randomly. It’s fun. There are brackets filled out based on team mascots and uniform colors. So get with some friends and make a game out of it. I’m not advocating any betting, but I’ve heard that having a pot adds a little something to the experience as well.

College ball and pro ball are like night and day. The college game seems based more on coaching and team play, while the pro game involves more individual talent. The college game brings you quality zones and presses that the pro game doesn’t usually see much of. It gives you a different product on the floor. The college game has a five-second rule that should really be implemented in the NBA. Do we really need that much iso?

The Future
Even if you’re a hardcore, NBA-only fan, you should watch the tournament and get familiar with the talent that will find its way into the Association someday. Even if you don’t want to follow a guy’s entire career, check out some of the hot names that should end up in the lottery or not far out of it: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless, to name a few. And those are just the freshmen.

No Pay for Play
I mentioned earlier how the college players approach the game differently than pros because it isn’t their job. The argument for whether the NCAA should pay its athletes could take forever, but the fact is that these kids are only getting a free education. There are no contract disputes or buyouts, no trades, no wondering if a guy is just on the court to draw a paycheck. It’s a brand of basketball that most of us can relate to. Unless there are actually more of you getting paid to play that I don’t know about.

So there you have it. You can take my suggestions and go with them or not. As for me, I’ll be camped in front of a TV from Thursday through Sunday, taking breaks only to sleep sporadically and go to the bathroom. I briefly considered getting diapered up, but decided against it. Feel free to share your thoughts. And if anyone has a bracket comp going, let me know.

[Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncleboatshoes/]