Earlier this year, members of the AFRO Sports Desk squared off over college football versus the NFL. After a 138-point outburst by Division III Grinnell College’s sophomore guard Jack Taylor the national media and internet searches went crazy. Such prompted a consideration of college hoops versus the pros.
But as spectacular as Taylor's efforts were, the diminutive point guard's century explosion went somewhat shunned primarily because of the level of play. College basketball tends to take a backseat to its pro level older brother but should it really have to? March Madness is potentially the biggest draw of any playoff system no matter the level. And considering fan participation during the season, does the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have the edge over its older brother , the National Basketball Association (NBA) or is the talk simply madness? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports desk debate this issue.
Green: Pageantry, rivalries and rankings give the NCAA the edge over the NBA in my opinion. It's hard for the NBA to account for the fan participation and emotion that runs through the veins of college basketball. The NCAA will never have the player name recognition that the NBA has but that depends on who you ask. Step onto any campus and any fan or alum can name every player on their school's roster. Even with the one-and-done rule the NCAA reigns over the professional hardwood.
Riley: Naturally, with an 82-game pro schedule compared to most 30-game college slates, it's easy for the emotion to show in every college game. Collegiate hoopsters play just a third of the games that the big boys play so, of course, you can expect some sluggish and downright boring regular season pro games. But once the NBA playoffs kick in, everything changes. The hustle happens and the effort intensifies. When you mix in what the playoffs provide with players like Kobe, LeBron James and Kevin Durant then you simply have the best brand of basketball in the world. College can keep you entertained but the NBA just can't be topped.
Green: How do you match students camping out for weeks in a row for a pair of tickets to a rivalry game?
Riley: Easy, it's called the NBA Finals.
Green: If it takes the last round of NBA basketball to compare to an ordinary January week of college basketball then my point is proven. Plus, I haven’t even mentioned the “Big Dance,” aka the NCAA Tournament, which probably should be considered the mother of all playoff tournaments. No playoff tournament can match the excitement of the NCAA Tournament, that’s why we call it March Madness.
Riley: Again, your sample size is much smaller, though. If the NBA was only 30 games a season I'm sure people would camp out, too, for Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers tickets. The NBA could probably go without 50 percent of their regular season slate but marketing politics are in place to ensure revenue. Between jersey sales, TV time and other marketing tools, the NBA just brings more to the table. If there ever was an NBA star to score 138 points in a game, don't you think that story would get more press than a grainy video and the five-minute interview that Taylor got?
Green: Absolutely, but I also know if the one-and-done rule for tournament play was eliminated, the NCAA could be light years more popular than what it is now. While we're on what-if's, imagine if Derrick Rose, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Durant all stayed in college at least three years. Or what if Dwight Howard or LeBron even went to school at all? College basketball would have created a whole new chapter in history. The crazy thing is that the NCAA is doing just fine without the fantasies and the NBA is rolling along, as well. But the NBA is at its best right now while the NCAA could easily be a lot better than what it already is. The advantage goes to the dorms and frat boys.