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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "P" Word In College Basketball

Okay, I’m going to say it, and I will probably take some heat for it, but I am going to say it, anyway…There is PARITY in NCAA Men’s Basketball…Yes, you heard me right, There is Parity in Men’s College Basketball.  (Note: I said Parity, not PARODY)   

A few weeks ago, I was involved in a Twitter Chat on Sports Business and the topic came up about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  The chat is made up of individuals who have strong experience in the World of Sports, others who are just cracking the club, (and it is a club!), and those who want to be get in but are left at the door behind the velvet ropes.  (Present company included!)  Anyway, a young participant in this evening’s Twitter Chat who had just earned his stripes into the WOS Club had made the statement that there is parity in Men’s College Basketball.  He want on to state, in a 140 characters or less, that he felt there were more “Unknown” teams then before cropping up in the TOP 25, now in March Madness, lower seeded teams were giving the Top Teams a run for their money. (Literally!)  Well, this brought on the wrath of several Sports Business Chat veterans who tweeted and retweeted their disdain for his parity comment, and promised to revoke his membership card and put his name and likeness on the Do Not Follow List. 

This gave me thought, could there be parity in Men’s College Basketball?  Now I am not talking about the kind of parity in the NFL, a term King Goodell and his merry men of owners toss around every time they tell you how good the product on the field is.  (Sure, I love the fact that a team “earned” their way into the playoffs and a home game with a 7 and 9 record.)   Yes, in College Hoops, you will still have your Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse, at the top of the list, but it appears that there are more and more colleges cracking the Top 25 and pulling off upsets that in the past couldn’t run the court with the power house schools. 

And perhaps, I’m caught up in the hype of this year’s Tournament where there is no hint of a #1 Seed in the Final Four – the first time this has happened since 2000, 11 years ago.  But last year, didn’t George Mason and Butler shock the Tournament with their play?  Okay, I know what you’re saying, the Tournament is PRIME for upsets – afterall, isn’t that what many of us live for – David beating Goliath.  Yes, every year, the Tournament gets one or two teams on a roll, and on any given night, Goliath can stub his BIG TOE, and take a fall.   But the shock is starting to wear off, and the upset is a little more expected than in the past.   (BTW, Butler, a Mid Major, is the first team since the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV to make back to back Final Four appearances, 1990- 91.)

As one expert stated, I am not sure you would call it PARITY, but the difference between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” is getting tighter.  Maybe it’s the One and Done mentality of the players (or should I say “Student – Athletes!) at some of the top schools compared to the relative stability at the Mid Majors where guys get a chance to play together for 3 or 4 years.  Also, the success and the exposure some of these less known schools are experiencing is only helping the confidence and the recruitment of some of these schools.  Do you not think that Butler, and Coach Brad Stevens are going to see a few more applications from guys with a quick cross over, who stand 6’7” and can jump out of the gym? (Is that even on the application!)
Whatever the reason, I’m sticking by the side of my fellow tweeter, and enjoying the parity in Men’s College Basketball – King Goodell would be proud!

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