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People Need To Stop Complaining That College Basketball Is A 'Bad Product' And Realize The Sport Is Just Fine

Over the weekend and even into today I've seen a lot of the same discussion. College basketball is a bad product. The TV ratings for this Final Four are going to stink. There's bad play. Everything along that sort of nature. Here's my counterpoint.

Who gives a shit?

Honestly, what fan gives a shit about TV ratings? You're either a college basketball fan who is going to watch the Final Four or you're not. I'm not talking about the network or advertisers, who obviously care about viewership numbers. No fan should care. This Tournament already delivered historic numbers. 

Pretty good for a bad sport. 

Now as someone who lives and breathes this sport. Someone who has dedicated my life to this sport at this point. Let me tell you something. College basketball is just fine. For about a decade - if not longer - I've heard how the sport is dead. How one-and-done would kill the sport (it didn't). How NIL/transfer portal would kill the sport (it didn't). How conference realignment would kill the sport (it didn't). That's not to say there were downfalls to each, especially realignment. I want my old ACC and Big East back especially. 

For everyone who bitches about one-and-done, only one freshman was on the two All-American teams this year. 7 of the 10 spent at least 3 years with their program. The other 2 (Oscar and Pickett) are in their 2nd year with the team after transferring. Also you can't say you want better talent and hate the one-and-done. Some of the most talented players we've seen in college basketball - Melo, Durant, Wall, Davis, Zion, etc) were all one-and-dones. It helps the talent pool. 

 As for officiating? Yeah, it's bad. It's historically bad. Granted it's always been bad in college basketball, it's getting worse. Refs are calling too many games and the rules are stupid. Just look at the whole flopping technical foul this year. It was so dumb and proved to be that way since it stopped being called. You know how you cut out flopping? Don't call an offensive foul. Make the team who flops play 5-on-4 as the guy falls to the ground. That'll cut it out. 

There have always been the same truths about college basketball. It's a niche sport that the majority of people don't care about until late February. The product isn't great. It's not like shooting was elite at some point and gotten worse. There's always been a lack of playmaking because you're talking about college basketball. In fact looking at KenPom. 3pt percentage is right around where it always has been - 34%. More 3pt shots are up, but percentage is similar. Efficiency at the Division I level is as high as it's ever been. Points per game is middle of the road basically, above average at 70.7 this year. There was a 6 year stretch from 87-92 where everything was higher. Outside of that? It's basically been the same. 

The fact is college basketball is in a good spot. Last year we had a Blue Blood Final Four. This year we have mid-majors and first-timers (and UConn). The NCAA Tournament will always deliver. It's the regular season that's the battle. Unless you're a diehard fan, you're not tuning in throughout December and January. The talent level is cyclical. A couple years ago we had the most talent we've seen in college basketball. This year? Not so much. It'll come back eventually. Also remember the transfer portal has more players than ever because of the free COVID year. You have more people involved in college basketball than ever.