With March Madness right around the corner, and hearing it from UNC and Wake fans here in North Carolina it got me thinking, is March Madness really the best postseason in sports? It’s certainly better than the NBA’s postseason, few would dispute that, but what about Major League Baseball? What about the college bowl season? With the new four-game playoff and the tradition of bowls like the Rose Bowl Game and the Cotton Bowl Classic, it’s certainly worth a debate, so Big Fudge and I go at it. I take the side of college football’s bowl season, and he takes the side of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Join in and share your thoughts in the comments below!
College Football Bowl Season Reigns Supreme – Ryan Kantor
Just like their regular season, college football’s postseason reigns supreme. After all, there’s a reason that 80% of the TV contract dollars for the ACC, the nation’s most well-respected basketball conference, come from football.
Steeped with tradition, anticipation, and road trips there’s nothing like it. I’ve never been to an NCAA tournament game, and you probably haven’t either. Who wants to buy a pass to see Vermont play North Carolina so they can see their alma mater or favorite team play later in the “session”–often in a geographically random place? Conversely, I’ve been to Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Miami for bowl games. All made for memorable road trips with friends, where we supported our team and enjoyed the rich tradition of college bowl games. (Ironically, Clemson lost all of those games, and I will be in Pasadena when Clemson loses in the National Title Game next year.)
That brings us to my biggest knock on March Madness. It’s not about your team or going to the games, it just about the brackets and the gambling. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. I love making the brackets. I’ll probably make two or even three this year. I’m sure we’ll have a cheap office pool so I can over-analyze teams I’ve never heard of before ending up picking all favorites, as I always do. In the end, that’s what is it about for most people, making brackets not the actual games or the teams. People just want to see exciting finishes and check their brackets at the end of the day. It wasn’t but two years ago (before TBS and Tru TV started airing games) that your team’s first round game likely wouldn’t be even televised in full.
Beyond that, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament invites way too many bad teams. While I’ll readily admit this problem plagues college football as well–just look at 6-7 GT playing in the Sun Bowl–it’s even worse in college basketball, because it makes for uninteresting matchups. During the bowl season, the mediocre teams that invariably slip in get matched up against relatively appropriate opponents–just look at 6-7 GT beating Southern Cal. March Madness, by rule, offers the opposite. It puts not mediocre, but bad teams, up against the very best in the country. Last year we got Michigan State romping Long Island by 22 and UNC beating Vermont by 19, so don’t give me this “every game is exciting” nonsense. BOOOORING!
Now let me give some credit to March Madness. Selection Sunday is great! It is top-notch, but is mostly filled with heartache and talk of who got left out. Northern Illinois has a different story to tell about the BCS selection show. I’ll give Men’s basketball the hat tip for selection Sunday, but at the same time, that’s where excitement peaks, selection Sunday and the first pass at your bracket.
Finally, college football adds even more excitement starting in 2014 with the new four-team playoff. Instead of a giant upset prone tournament where the best teams are worn down and play in a toss-up game to determine a champion, college football will select the four most deserving teams to play in their own final four while the rest of college football still participates in the tradition rich bowl games we all know and love. March Madness is great, and I can’t wait to fill out my brackets, but it still doesn’t top college football’s bowl game.
March Madness is the Most Exciting Postseason in Sports – Big Fudge 74
You’ll be in Pasadena watching Clemson lose? What a coincidence so will I, but really to watch the winners (I’ll leave it to the commenters to decipher my team). All trash talk and wishful thinking aside, you are clearly on the wrong side of this argument. Make no mistake, I am a college football guy, but even though I love the sport you’re defending and this site is your namesake, I’m not afraid to point out just how terribly wrong you are. There’s no denying March Madness is the most exciting postseason in sports.
We all understand there is more money in college football, and I concede that the regular season for NCAA football is much better than college basketball’s, but that isn’t the issue up for debate. Neither is the fact that college football will finally have a playoff starting in 2014, we are talking about the current bowl system vs. the insanity that is the Big Dance.
You argue that there are snoozers in the tourney and while that is sometimes the case, I would argue that there are far more of these matchups in bowl season (take every game from Dec 15th-29th for example). No one cares about Arkansas State vs San Jose State in the Weed Eater bowl in mid-December, including the fans of these schools themselves. Not to mention there are 12 other games like this that we must wade through like a river of uninteresting sewage to get to the “fun games” which rarely have the excitement we hope for. Meanwhile in the tourney, upsets happen regularly. The very nature of basketball is that it is a make or miss game. If one team is making shots and the other is not anything can happen. Thus you have days like last year where two #2 seeds fell to #15 seeds on the same day! You can try to act like that isn’t exciting, but I know you pay more attention to that than any bowl game that your team isn’t directly involved in or that isn’t for the National Championship.
As for the sessions that are the standard for tourney viewing, I love them. I’ve never been to an NCAA tournament game, but I have been to a couple of conference tournament games and they were great. This time of year teams are desperate and produce some dramatic basketball theater. The whole point of going on the trip at all is to watch basketball and size up other teams if your team is to make a run. In that sense viewing March Madness live gives you that great chance and you may also get to be a part of a monster upset or a buzzer beater. What more can you ask for? Before you make your rebuttal, I just ask you to tell me truthfully what is more exciting.
Up first, Ryan Kantor
You raise some great points about the excitement of the first round, with its proclivity for upsets, but you also solidify one of my biggest arguments. The excitement of March Madness peaks very early. Most would say the first round is their favorite. After that, it’s just college basketball again, which is about 1/6th as popular as college football (at least according to the dollars).
The brackets, bracketology, and gambling are to March Madness as Fantasy Football is to the NFL. It’s not the sport or the tournament we love, it’s the activity alongside it.
You see, March Madness is a lot like the World Cup, it’s a social sensation when it comes we all pretend like we’ve been following all year, we gamble on it, and then we forget it. Football is a tradition and a way of life.
The defense, Big Fudge 74
You make a valid point. Here is my counter argument:
The defense rests.
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