A. Bitoni Fan
NCAA D1 v NBL - value of on-court product?
There's a great thread already regarding standard of play on the forum, including chatter about how NBL sides would go against Kentucky etc. - http://www.hoops.com.au/forum/36746-ncaa-d1-level-comparison/
What I wanted to discuss was more from a marketing/commercial standpoint. Putting aside a "special" team like this year's Kentucky one, I think the general consensus is that the standard of play in mid to high D1 college basketball is broadly comparable with that of the NBL.
With that in mind, it is somewhat mind blowing the amount of media attention and interest that the NCAA tournament generates relative to the NBL. Where do we draw the line regarding what it is that really gets fans/media excited about a sporting competition in light of this. A few thoughts of my own:
- I consider the general standard of D1 college hoops relatively average in regards to strategic execution and general excitement. They have a 35 second shot clock with which most teams spend the first 20 odd seconds doing not much at all, which makes the games pretty slow in general. There was a recent conference championship game (Sun Belt conference) that finished with a final score of 38-36, yet this type of game still garnered attention on the likes of ESPN SportsCenter etc. The conference champ in that particular game (Georgia State) went on to upset higher ranked Xavier in their first NCAA tournament game;
- Having said the above, the NCAA still trumps the NBL as far as capacity for "highlight" plays made by great athletes;
- With seemingly every city having their own college team, the tournament that brings it all together is a great way for the whole country to get on board and interested;
- College sports in general and basketball are well ingrained as "traditional" sporting competitions in the USA;
- The championship game seems to regularly draw "football" sized crowds of 70,000 plus, in addition to the millions of others watching on TV. The tournament as a whole is considered a sporting event up there with the likes of any in the USA as far as interest/attention.
In summary, I don't really consider the standard of play in the NCAA tournament to be substantially superior (if at all) to the NBL, with the exception of athleticism levels and capacity to produce highlight plays. As per a comment in the other thread, James Ennis is an example of a guy who was a relatively anonymous player in college circles yet was viewed as a "god" in NBL circles just for his sheer athleticism which was far and above what we normally see.
I just find it funny that the NBL is unable to generate any sort of positive buzz/media attention yet another competition with a fairly similar overall standard of basketball is able to command the attention of the USA for its final tournament.
Is it really as simple as having some more highlights and tradition that we're missing? Perhaps it's just the sheer magnitude and excitement of the "one loss and you're out" stakes and the storylines created as such?