College Basketball Doesn’t Measure Up to the NBA


The NBA is the best basketball league in the world. It’s primetime, best-of-show, extreme, nail-biting, you name it. It tries to make basketball what it was supposed to be: exciting.

You might disagree. You might enjoy little league, high school or college games more for some reason. But not me. Give me a good NBA game and I’m happy. Here some reasons why:

  • Arguably the best overall athletes in professional sports. NBA players are tall, quick, strong and intelligent (most of them — on the court anyway).
  • Traditional rivalries. They go way back, I guess you get this in college, too. But come on – Lakers vs. Celtics? Bulls vs. Pistons? That is what legends are made of.
  • One-on-one battles between great players. Defensive matchups between a great defender and great offensive talent are often seen on a nightly basis. It is hard to have these marquee matchups when you’re playing a box-and-one or 2-3 zone.
  • No boring zone defense. Defenders have to be better at one-on-one assignments, and have to be smarter during rotations. Teams have to be smarter about who they commit to, and they pay a price for overloading and picking on one particular player.
  • Shorter shot clocks. Seriuosly, 35 seconds to run a play? The NFL has twice the players on each team and it only takes them 25.
  • No three-point shooting contests. No zone means players get guarded on the perimeter more closely. Teams don’t play four-courners and end up chucking threes all game because the defense is plugging the lane.
  • Three-pointers are actually worth three points. Instead of the traditional 20-foot 3-point line that was introducted in 1961 by the American Basketball League (ABA), the NBA now has a 22 foot perimeter. Because of the 2-foot increase, the shot is a low-enough percentage that it is used as an additional weapon, not the main focus of today’s offenses. In contrast, college games are typically decided at the 3-point line because of its relative closeness. For example, Illinois hoisted over 40 3-point attempts in the 2005 NCAA Finals.
  • Post-up moves? Hook shots? Pick and rolls? Three reasons why college basketball lacks some of the fundamentals. Zone defenses put a strangle hold on all three.
  • Better refs. They make more money, they are professionals, and they miss less calls.
  • Better coaching. Plays, defensive and offensive, that have been proven at the college level or elsewhere in the NBA to be effective. No standing around looking listless. The troops have a more capable general.

Now don’t get me wrong. A great college game is as good as a great NBA game. But what I won’t agree with is saying that _overall_ college basketball is way better than NBA. That’s bullshit. In my mind there is no comparison. March Madness, yes, I think it is awesome — but the fact remains — there is definitely a lot of shitty basketball being played every week around the country, and it’s pretty sad.

Here are some reasons why people hate the NBA:

  • Illegal defense? You don’t even understand the whole point of it. First off, illegal defense no longer exists, and hasn’t for over 4 years. The NBA board realized that the rule was hurting basketball and it was rescinded at the beginning of the ’01-’02 season. The only standing rule that regulates defenses is the defensive 3-second rule that prevents defenders from sitting in the paint for longer than 3 seconds when they are not guarding an opponent. The violation is hardly ever called.
  • Egos, which don’t really matter to me when it comes to great basketball. So the guy is a punkass? So what, sometimes a baller just schools your honor student. Get over it and tell them to practice more.
  • Over-hyped? What isn’t?
  • Other rules and regulations? You probably haven’t read the rulebook, so this probably isn’t a good point for you.

Why college games tend to piss me off:

  • It sucks having to watch inexperienced players make mistakes I wouldn’t make. Some college players are just that dumb.
  • I don’t like watching guys who made the team “just because they were tall”.
  • I hate watching a good team suffer because they have a first-time crappy coach who doesn’t know what a pick is, or doesn’t know how to run a defense that is anything but a 3-2 zone.
  • Defenses cheat. They sit back, don’t guard the three, and most of the time rely on the fact that college players can’t shoot threes very well, which leads us to…
  • Three point contests. Sooner or later a team realizes the other team is sitting back, and they give it to their best shooters and just chuck threes all game instead of trying to play basketball. Or, they lack the ability to play real basketball and are satisfied with throwing up 40 3-point attempts.
  • Flukes. In the round of 64, believe it or not, sometimes the best team doesn’t win. The NBA playoffs keep flukes from happening. There are no cinderellas, just great teams who deserve a championship.

You know, in the end, it’s about the game. I personally don’t give a shit about who likes what, and I don’t necessarily believe that the NBA is better in all aspects. I think it’s more fun to watch, and that’s my opinion. Just don’t count out the NBA when you don’t really understand what it’s about or fully recognize the difference between the two leagues.

Overall, though, give me a good ball game that is well played and I don’t care about where the line is, who is coaching, or what silly rules there are. I’m happy, because all things aside, on most nights, the best team usually does win.

Rulebooks are interesting to read. More people should try it sometime.

6 thoughts on “College Basketball Doesn’t Measure Up to the NBA

  1. OK, first off, the NBA has legalized the zone defense several years ago. Secondly, the NBA season is way too long (82 games), and third, the playoffs are too long, and lastly, the game itself is too long (48 minutes).

    Now they would never shorten the season or reduce the number of playoff games because that will cut into the profits of the league and its’ teams.

    The result of long games and a long season is that if you watch an NBA regular season game closely, it can be downright boring. Too many times do you see one guy walking the ball up with four other guys standing around. There is very little ball movement, and very little movement away from the ball.

    Sure, playoff game can be exciting, but you have to wait five months just to get there, then the playoff themselves last around 2 months.

    And to say that professional basketball players are the best athletes is a stretch. One could easily make the argument for football players, who have to endure a pounding week in and week out.

    And I would also like to see basketball players do what they do on a sheet of ice wearing boots on top of a 1/4 inch steel blade.

  2. I know the NBA legalized zone defense, which is why I said, “First off, illegal defense no longer exists, and hasn’t for over 4 years.”

    A conventional 3-2 zone wouldn’t be allowed, because although zone is technically possible, it can’t be accomplished without having defensive players guarding an offensive counterpart.

    The NBA still tries to prevent “sitting in the key” via the defensive 3 second call. So I guess it depends on your definition of zone.

    To me, college zone defenses often collapse on the key, and would often find themselves in violation of the NBA rule made to prevent it.

  3. Chicago Bulls

    The 1999 Chicago Bulls team were the greatest NBA team. The rest dont come near them.

  4. josh simiele

    to say that a good nba game is as good as a good collage game is the biggest stretch ive ever heard first of all in a good nba game there might only be one or two players doing it all where as in college games. i also noticed you didnt even touch on the team factor of the nba cause there is no arguement and thats why college is soooo much better to watch than the nba even good nba games dont match up to mediocre college games

  5. I think college has a bigger emphasis on team defense because teams play less man defense and more zone — which means more rotations and better communication and defensive chemistry are needed. On offense, I seriously can’t believe you actually think college hoops are not about marquis players and chuckers.

    When was the last time someone won hoops player of the year by averaging a lot of assists? The Suns, for example, have a traditional point guard who averaged less than 20 points over the last two seasons but got the most assists per game in the league and led his team to average almost 110 points. That’s not team basketball? He got the MVP twice for it.

    Anyway, I think they are both team-oriented but the rules make the leagues focus on different aspects of the game. I don’t agree at all with your comments, because whether you like it or not, college hoops is very much about the “superstars” and every bit as dependent on recruiting the right ball hog to lead you to a championship. If you want “team basketball” watch the Jazz or the Suns.

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