Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Do you ever get the feeling that the old
guard of college basketball coaches really has this thing all figured out and
just plays the part really well?
Let me explain. This college basketball season has been great for the fans.
Seemingly every day, the new No. 1 team in the country becomes the old No. 1
team and a new group of devotees get to bask in the glory of their team for a
It's Indiana, then Duke, then Syracuse, then Michigan, then Indiana, again. And
so on down the line.
It leaves us wondering who really is the best and who we're going to pick to
win our March Madness pools.
But for the coaches, they learned long ago that the regular season doesn't
Now, we're talking about the big boys here. The coaches who know that all they
really need to do is get in.
For the Dukes and the Syracuses of the world, it doesn't really matter to them
if they're a No. 1 seed or a No. 3.
That doesn't bother them. They know they have the talent to beat anybody and a
slip-up in January or February doesn't hurt in March.
Of course, they'll put on a sour face for their fans to make them think they
feel as bad as they do, but inside they know the deal. It's all about what
happens in late March and early April that will be remembered and determine how
much money goes into their pockets.
Now, for the little guys desperate for a taste of the bracket and the prestige
that comes with it, the regular season is big.
Unfortunately, we rarely see those little guys on television.
As always, it's a case of the rich getting richer as the big boys dominate the
television screens because people watch them.
The little guys toil away looking for that "signature win" that gets them in,
but even if they do get in, their chances of winning more than a game or two
are slim. It's just the way it goes.
We hear the tired term "bracket busters" every year, but when we're down to 16
teams, let's face it, most of them are the same year after year.
And getting back to the original point, it's that reason why the college
basketball regular season is just the worst.
The games we see - Duke vs. North Carolina ad nauseum - don't mean much and the
games we don't see sometimes do. But out of sight, out of mind.
College hoops is just lucky it hit on March Madness. Nobody pays much attention
from December through February, but come March, their tournament is front page
Contrast that thought with college football.
Every game in the college football regular season is big. Some are obviously
bigger than others. And when you lose is also important (it's better to lose
early than late in the year).
But losing in the regular season is bad and that makes the regular season good
for the fans because it matters.
Folks are pumped for that big rivalry game in October because so much is at
Michigan loses to Michigan State in January in basketball? Oh, well, we play
them again in a few weeks and if we win the national title, nobody is going to
remember what happened in January anyway.
We do remember what happened in October in college football and that helps make
So, how does college basketball fix the regular season problem? Or do they even
worry about it?
One way to fix it would be to shrink the field that makes the NCAA Tournament.
But if you think that is going to happen, please email me and I'll get that
Brooklyn Bridge deed to you right away.
That leaves us with what we have now. A boring four months and a great one
month. I guess it's better than nothing.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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