College Basketball Has Become a One Month Sport
The decline of college basketball is becoming more noticeable each year. The level of play continues to drop off, and I believe more viewers are being turned off by the sport. It has basically become a one month sport, with the NCAA tournament being the only thing that matters. There are several reasons for this, which as a college basketball fan, are sad to see.
The one and done rule, created by the NBA, means a player has to be one year removed from graduating high school in order to enter the NBA draft. For the longest time, there wasn't even a rule at all. High school players could jump straight to the NBA. Now they are forced to attend college for a year, play overseas, enter a developmental league, etc. before going to the NBA. This means the top players attend college for a year and then bolt for the draft. They don't necessarily need to be considered a high draft pick either. NBA teams draft on potential, so if a team thinks you'll eventually be good, you can be considered a high draft pick. This means the best players no longer stick around in college for 3 or 4 years, you're lucky if they stay for 2. With this much turn around, it's hard for teams to continue playing at a high level year after year.
In the past, the majority of players stayed for 3 or 4 years. You had teams with juniors and seniors who were the top players in the sport. Fans identified with them, knew who they were, and which school they played for. Now that's dominated by freshmen and sophomores. It's harder to keep track of who the top players are each year, even for a person who follows college basketball, because the players don't stick around long enough. Casual fans can't get invested in a player or team like they could before. This hurts the sport as more casual fans become disinterested.
The NCAA tournament, also known as March Madness, is one of the greatest times of the year. 68 teams all trying to advance, knowing their season is done if they lose. As great as this tournament is, it makes the regular season almost meaningless. Sure, you still have to win enough games to make the tournament. But unless you're a die-hard fan of a specific school, or of basketball itself, then you aren't going to spend your time in December and January watching college basketball games. In the end, they don't matter all that much.
This is all sad to say, as I’m a college basketball fan. I have a specific school I root for, so I watch every one of their games. But to be honest, other than that, I don’t watch a whole lot of college basketball anymore. I know a January game between two top Big Ten teams doesn’t matter that much in the end, because they’re both making the NCAA tournament, and that’s all that matters. Nobody remembers what you do in the regular season; March Madness is €all that counts.