The Golden Blue

NCAA Basketball vs. NBA Basketball

Jack Berens, Co-editor

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve sprinting upstairs to my room during Chicago Bulls commercial breaks to reenact the Bulls players’ plays I saw on TV only moments beforehand.  I would lob myself dunks on my Nerf Hoop à la Tyrus Thomas and nail corner jumpers with my best Luol Deng impressions.  Succinctly, like so many young boys worldwide, I’ve had a deep appreciation for the game of basketball ingrained in my psyche ever since I can remember.  While I’m certainly not an adept basketball player, I do think that I know quite a bit about the sport.  Before I delineate why I believe high-level (Division 1) college basketball is superior to NBA basketball, I’d like to emphasize that the last time I played basketball in a competitive league was on the freshmen B team (and most of that was spent spectating courtside).

Essentially 100% of basketball fans understand that NBA athletes are significantly faster, stronger, more experienced, and overall much better athletes than the NCAA’s basketball players.  No one disputes this.  Yet when I talk to my friends about basketball, many of them would prefer to watch NBA regular season games to NCAA regular season games.  During the NBA regular season, so many players take plays off.  They don’t dive for loose balls, don’t play defense, and don’t hustle down the floor.  There are about twice as many games in the NBA regular season as opposed to the NCAA regular season, so players can afford to take plays off or not even suit up to play some games.  I’ve watched a lot of NCAA and NBA games, and from my experience, NCAA players want to win regular season games more than NBA players want to win their regular season games.  Of course, there are exceptions, but believe me: you’ll see a lot more diving and sprawling on the floor after loose balls in college than in the NBA.  NBA players can take a variety of ill-advised shots and coaches may not bat an eye; meanwhile, if an NCAA player chucks up a pair of poor-quality shots, expect to see him/her pulled.

Also, NCAA teams tend to get the whole team involved and have offenses that move the ball much more alongside better floor spacing and activity than NBA teams.  NBA teams tend to be more predictable offensively than NCAA teams, and coaches tend to take fewer risks in the pros.  Additionally, since there are relatively few NBA teams and so many games, a few losses rarely makes a difference in whether or not a team makes playoffs.  However in the NCAA with its abundance of teams and fewer games, each game really does count in order to make it to the big dance of March Madness.

These are cursory explanations of why I think regular season NCAA basketball is more interesting to watch than pro regular season basketball, and if you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to flip on the TV and watch some games when you have time.  You may just change your mind.

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NCAA Basketball vs. NBA Basketball