March Madness is in full swing, but I’m not talking about the NCAA tournament, I’m talking about the race for the NBA playoffs.
While I enjoy a game of basketball as much as the next person, I must say the quality of play in the NBA is so much better. In fact, one of my favorite parts about this past weekend is the Degree comercial which is really just a Steph Curry highlight reel. That’s how you play the game.
The NCAA tournament is renowned for it’s unpredictability. Yes, this makes it very fun to watch, and very easy for everyone to enjoy, but it is a terrible way to crown a champion. I love that a die-hard hoops X’s and O’s guy can sit across the couch from someone who filled out a bracket based off mascot cuteness and still enjoy the games, but a seven-game series is the only way to determine who the real champion is.
Think back to last year, when Aaron Harrison nailed a 3-pointer at the gun to knock the Badgers out of the tournament. Now imagine who wins Game 2 a few nights later. Once you shake off the initial PTSD of last year’s Final Four, it’s a pretty intriguing what if. And hell, maybe Kentucky was better than Wisconsin last year, but it sure would’ve been nice to see them prove it a few more times before you were forced to sadly wallow around on State Street.
Next, the shot clock in college basketball is an infuriating 35 seconds long. The 24-second shot clock in the NBA leads to more points and more exciting games. I hate watching college teams endlessly stall while trying to milk clock.
Because of this, NBA offenses are so much better at moving the ball to generate good looks. Watch last year’s NBA Finals where the San Antonio Spurs put on a free basketball skills clinic. Their passing was amazing, and they knocked down every open jump shot. It was amazing to watch. Anyone who considers themself a fan of basketball had to sit back and appreciate the amazing play of the Spurs. Contrast that with the cringeworthy isolation game in college.
Here’s the scenario: VCU is tied with Ohio State with 25 seconds left in the game. Treveon Graham secures a rebound and takes the ball up the floor. He waits at the top of the key to drain some clock to ensure his squad gets the last shot, then finally drives, one on five at the rim and misses a layup as time expired. I almost ripped my hair out.
Finally, due to the amazing offensive precision the NBA offers, the defense has evolved to match. The NBA is almost exclusively man-to-man defense, which means the fans can watch incredible matchups between players. College teams too frequently rely on zone or trap defenses to hide the inadequacies of their rosters. NBA teams cannot do this because opposing teams’ jump shooters are too good. Watch Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers stick to opposing guards like glue. Then find me some tape of a college game where a point guard has a better chance of escaping his shadow then his defender.
If you’ve been hooked on basketball for the first time this week, I urge you to check out the NBA. It’ll blow your mind. Watch a team like the Warriors or the Hawks and become amazed with their offensive efficiency, or watch a team like the Grizzlies and watch them stifle their opponents on defense. Enjoy the NCAA tournament for it’s unpredictability, but follow the NBA for good basketball.
Think the NCAA Tournament is the undisputed best? Sick of college ball’s lac of talent uglying the game up? Let Grey know at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know your thoughts.