How to fix college hoops
To stay both competitive and relevant, college basketball needs to grow up
A version of this story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Nov. 11 College Basketball Preview. Subscribe today!
COLLEGE BASKETBALL is a great game, but it has been slowly declining over the last several seasons, for a variety of reasons. Don't be fooled by a terrific and aesthetically pleasing NCAA championship game between Louisville and Michigan, or get distracted by the billions of dollars being generated off the game. The quality of play simply isn't keeping pace with the quality of players and coaches in the game.
To the old-timers who love to blame AAU basketball for the so-called erosion of fundamentals, that is simply wrong. The players coming out of high school are better, more athletic and more skilled than they have ever been, but you wouldn't know it from watching the college game. For years, the casual fan couldn't tell the difference between a good game and a close game, and college basketball has benefited from that; but now, it's clear to everyone how difficult the game has become to watch.
We are headed into what could be one of college basketball's best seasons in years, mainly because of the star power of the incoming freshman class. But it would be folly to ignore the game's problems: It is over-coached, too slow and allows a level of physicality that takes away from the beauty of the sport.
But we can and should do something about it; we need to make college basketball more watchable and a better fan experience. And part of the solution is admitting the NBA has a better product because it calls fouls and allows its players to use their athleticism on both ends of the floor.
Here are four ways college basketball could follow the League's lead.
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2013-14 Insider College Hoops Preview
In the lead-up to the 2013-14 college basketball season, Insider is providing preview articles on every Division I team, as well as essays from Insider's analysts and experts.