January 21, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 61  

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Why college basketball kicks the NBA’s ass

Ian Denomme

Sports Editor

College football has finished creating controversy over its ridiculous Bowl College System (BCS) for the year. And the NFL has nothing left but the Super Bowl. That means from now until April, Saturday and Sunday afternoons will be filled with college basketball.

Christmas came a few weeks late for me.

Nothing beats the thrill and excitement of NCAA basketball. A Milwaukee Bucks-Phoenix Suns game will NEVER be as entertaining as a Sunday afternoon NCAA doubleheader.

It doesn’t matter what teams you get to see. Whether it’s Duke vs. North Carolina in a battle of top ranked teams or Murray State vs. Valparaiso fighting for their lives to get to the tournament, the excitement and emotion are unparalleled.

My love for college basketball started in the mid 1990s when I first watched Duke point guard Steve Wojciechowski. ‘Wojo’ represented everything that is college basketball.

He was a five-foot-nothing, Polish guard who didn’t score much but was unmatched when it came to heart — something that doesn’t happen in the NBA.

Wojo was an honourable mention All-American and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1997, but went un-drafted in the NBA Draft, probably because he couldn’t do a 360-windmill dunk from the foul line.

That’s the problem with the NBA, it’s about entertainment as much as it is about sport, not unlike professional wrestling. Vince Carter is whiny and often injured and Kobe Bryant could go to jail for rape, but the two of them are still among the top vote-getters for the NBA All-Star Game.

College basketball is different. Players are not millionaires, they are students who have to sit out if they are failing. Although some are there to eventually get to the NBA, there are thousands who are there for the love of the game and looking for no rewards.

In college, seniors cry when they lose their last game, knowing their career is over. In the NBA, players whine until they get traded to a contender (read: Karl Malone, Gary Payton).

The rivalries in college basketball are among the most intense in all of sport. Duke/North Carolina, Kentucky/Louisville, Kansas/Missouri, USC/UCLA; the list goes on and on.

What’s the best and most heated rivalry in the NBA? The Naismith Cup, maybe? Oh no wait... the Grizzlies moved to Memphis.

Finally, the playoffs in college basketball are better than any other sport on the planet. Hockey is my true love, and seeing the Leafs win the Stanley Cup would mean more than anything to me.

But March Madness is unbelievable to watch. I get goose bumps when I hear CBS’s Road to the Final Four jingle. The emotion, the intensity, the upsets and the road to becoming NCAA champion cannot be beat.



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