The (Ratings) Limits of Madness

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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20 Responses

  1. I think the end of one-and-done will be good for the sport. I don’t mean good for the players or fairness or anything. I think it’ll make college basketball more enjoyable. Play will decline if the top athletes skip it, but that will be more than compensated for by continuity, which is in very short supply.

    Like college football, the game isn’t about the overall level of play. It’s about our investment in the institutions. Take all the best players and put them in a D-League and most will still watch because it’s our university, or our state’s university, or some school we just decided to adopt in this context. Players coming in and going out so quickly is actually a distraction, even if they’re really good.

    If I’m wrong, it’s because transfers have the same effect and at the rate that’s going it may negate any gains in that area.

    As far as the ratings questions go, Texas Tech isn’t a good draw and Virginia isn’t a great one. You hear those two are playing and you don’t think it’s a game that you have to watch. So fewer people did when it was North Carolina and Gonzaga, which combine for bigger brand.Report

    • I also think the end of the one and done will have a positive effect of getting the worst of the seediness out of the sport. With the high dollar players going other routes, a good chunk of the dredges that chase them will follow suit. Regardless, the sport will change, and I think the tournament would be wise to prepare and think ahead for what those changes look like.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

      I have a hard time seeing how increases in one-year transfers will have the same effect as ending one-and-done. (Though I am also starting to doubt just how much that will change the game, because the NBA will be less interested in taking completely untested high school students than they are in highly-marketed talents who have been through a one-year basketball camp run by the USA Olympic coach, so that a lot of these players are still pretty likely to be one-and-dones by choice).

      Transfers are guys who didn’t find a place to maximize their abilities in their first program selection. By definition, this means they are not generational talents, or even number ones just in that program. If they transfer and sit or grad transfer, they are likely to be starting in the same place in the new program, though certainly can hopefully then blossom into something special. But that really doesn’t seem like the same kind of situation that the current one-and-done practice creates, where a few top talents go to a handful of name programs, and are then marketed to such an exclusive extent that if one of those programs doesn’t end up in the final or semis, everyone freaks out and feels like the whole thing is a big dud (which really is a destructive new media phenomenon that is less than decade old IMO).Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Our grad transfers have almost all been really good additions to the team and brought a kind of marquis excitement, but weren’t necessarily NBA-bound. As I said, it’s that maturity and often they have a certain specific skill (really good 3-point shooters, etc) It’s the idea that age and wisdom trump youth and vigor.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Happy that the one-and-done is winding down but that’s also not exactly true. My beloved Louisville Cardinals have taken a liking to acquiring grad transfers. They provide some much-needed older leadership on the floor with the younger kids and it’s nice to see these guys work them up to a marquee program.

    This was not the most exciting tournament after the second weekend. Not as many upsets or (potential) Cinderella teams as usual. We followed it because we love college basketball, but it was not as fun as other years. It also sucks because we have zero ACC loyalty. I was ride or die for the Big East but felt nothing about Virginia winning last night.Report

    • I do miss the Big East Tournament. Felt big, every year. I could care less about the Big 12 nowReport

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        It really did feel huge every year. That was a great conference. Even the not so good teams were scrappy so every game was a war. I always felt like running that gauntlet had us ready for March. The ACC feels too bifurcated. You have a few good teams at the top and everyone chasing them. Also, it’s hard to feel loyal to any conferencr that has UNC in it (barf).Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The way conferences have been reshuffled over the last decade has killed any passion I had for college sports. Looking at it from the other side, when the Terps left the ACC (which now isn’t even anything like the ACC I grew up with) I lost interest.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to InMD says:

        The ACC clearly wanted Louisville to take Maryland’s place as the rival for Virginia, which at first seem ludicrous but now it’s actually starting to work, at least on our end. They have our number at the moment and it’s starting to piss off the fans.Report

  3. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    I watched exactly one game this tournament: the infamous Auburn-Virginia game. All that did was confirm my long held belief that basketball officiating is on par with the referees in the pro wrestling ring.

    I suspect much of the interest in big-time sports in America is solely due to gambling. I know mine is.Report

    • In addition to officiating, I can’t help but feel that the steady stream of cheating scandals may finally be having an effect. When it turns out that many of the top programs really have been cheating on recruiting, academics, paying players, etc for years, “you’re good because you cheat and haven’t got caught yet” becomes a working assumption.

      At least part of me believes that Louisville won’t be the last time the NCAA has to vacate a national championship.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

        UNC proved that we never should have cooperated with the NCAA. It’s a joke organization when it comes to certain programs being protected. They can take our banner but we won that championship.Report

        • Given the last few years in the big-money Div I men’s sports, I believe that the NCAA is looking for a chance to hit someone with a death penalty to prove how tough they are. It may not be the big four basketball programs (letting the NCAA own the lucrative rights to the tournament is an impossible conflict of interest), or the current top few in football, but someone’s going to get hammered. Most likely someone who refuses to cooperate.

          (If I were in charge of the Big 10, I’d have had a private meeting with each of the ADs and threatened them with my own version of the death penalty if they have a hidden scandal and I don’t hear about it from them first.)Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Michael Cain says:

            My theory is that some low level assistant is going to suddenly realize they’ve been complicit in something beyond what they bargained for and go public. Federal prosecutors will get involved, etc., etc., etc.Report

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