A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.
This year in college basketball is different. We don’t see a dominant favorite for a national champion like we did last year with Anthony Davis and Kentucky. The No. 1 team in the country has lost on five different occasions, including Duke twice. Every team has at lost at least twice, and seven teams currently have only two losses.
So what does that mean for college basketball? Is that parity, or a sign that the quality of the game is diminishing?
For the casual fan, one who is now getting into the swing of the season after the Super Bowl, it could seem less interesting. John Calipari and the national brand he has built at Kentucky doesn’t have the same luster this season as previous teams that featured John Wall, Brandon Knight, or Davis.
Instead, they’re a team that has looked human, a collection of freshmen that had its struggles early, but is picking up steam and looking for an NCAA tournament berth.
North Carolina has worked through something similar. They likely won’t be competing for an ACC title with Duke, especially with the emergence of a tough Miami team. James Michael McAdoo was billed as the next UNC superstar and has put up good numbers, but isn’t in National Player of the Year discussions.
And all of that plays to the state of college basketball.
Though Indiana is back and the Big Ten is the nation’s best conference, the lack of a definitive National Player of the Year or king in college basketball makes it harder to draw in the casual fan. Parity works well in some sports, but it takes a more involved fan to want to tune in for Wichita State-Creighton (as great a matchup as that is) than any run-of-the-mill mid-season NBA game.
But what that parity promises is a stellar NCAA tournament. Expect shakeups like last season, where two 15-seeds knocked off 2-seeds, or years previous when Butler and Virginia Commonwealth reached the Final Four.
This March is going to be a good one.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_