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Opinion: NCAA needs to make changes to college basketball

The Duke Blue Devils celebrate their 68-63 win over Wisconsin in the NCAA National Championship game on April 6 in Indianapolis. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The Duke Blue Devils celebrate their 68-63 win over Wisconsin in the NCAA National Championship game on April 6 in Indianapolis.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Now that March Madness has come to an end, I would like to reflect on how maddening the tournament actually was, and why college basketball is turning into an unflattering product.

Upsets are a huge part of what makes college basketball worth watching in March. This year, however, they were hard to come by.

Besides the two 14-seeds that pulled off upsets in the first round, nothing stood out to me as far as exciting or mind-blowing. The streak of a 12-seed beating a five was broken this year. It’s the first time since 2007 that a 12-seed didn’t advance to the round of 32, and that was disappointing.

Kentucky losing might have been shocking to most, but I have come to expect that from a team filled with inexperienced players and a coach, John Calipari, who has come up short of a title in more than one occurrence.

Which leads into my next NCAA basketball frustration. The one-and-done rule is hurting the sport more than ever and is something the NCAA really needs to look into for the benefit of the sport.

Kentucky has obviously mastered recruiting for this rule and continues to dominate the regular season, but besides Duke’s most recent title run, the teams who are winning it all are the ones who have veterans leading the way.

What the NCAA should consider is following in the footsteps of college baseball and allow the athletes to be drafted out of high school and then decide whether they will go pro. If they elect to go to college, they must stick around for three years before entering the draft.

This might get messy at times because of players declining to be a part of subpar NBA teams, but many will take the money as an 18-year-old, and college basketball will benefit from it.

Even if they make the athletes stick with their original choice to go pro, the ones who do decide to go the college route should not be allowed to leave for the draft until after they have spent at least three years removed from high school, the way college football does now.

Fans of college athletics support teams rather than individuals in most cases. What sells tickets is being a part of the history and tradition of the programs.

To make the regular season more competitive and more meaningful, the NCAA needs to stop giving automatic bids to the conference tournament champions and teams need to earn the right to play.

If a team wanted to, it could forfeit every game in the regular season and rest their players, then when it comes to the conference tournament, they could dominate and win it, clinching a berth in the NCAA tournament. If teams have to compete for a limited number of spots in their individual tournament, the regular-season games would mean even more on a nightly basis.

Officiating was also a nonstop topic of conversation throughout the NCAA Tournament, and when that happens, it’s usually not good for the game. After each broadcast and even during them, the officials were criticized, and in some cases rightfully so. How the referees don’t get to see the same replays as the viewers do at home still blows my mind. What’s the point of replay if you still can’t get the call right?

I know the TV ratings set a record for viewers, but that’s not too hard when you have each game on multiple channels. When it was just on CBS and not TBS, truTV and so on, the games seemed more intriguing.

Overall, the state of college basketball has continued to decrease, and unless someone steps in and cleans it up, it won’t get any better. To allow this sport to continue on this way, to me, is madness.


  1. The ncaa can not require any person to attend college to be eligible to play nfl football or nba basketball. The nfl requirement is that a high school student is not eligible for the draft until 3 years after their graduation date. What we should be more concerned with is graduating more non football and basketball students. This would prepare more students with degrees that can go out into society and get meaningful jobs!

  2. First, it’s not an NCAA rule nor can they do anything about it. It’s the NBA who sets this rule. The players union needs to come together with the owners and either drop the early entry rule or make changes to make it like baseball. Enter right away or wait 3 years.

    Second people talk about one-and-done players ruining NCAA basketball. You do realize that the number of one-and-done kids is less than .5% of all the NCAA basketball players? There are far more drop outs or guys that quit the team after one year across college basketball than there are one-and-done players going to the NBA. Yet some people talk about it like it’s the plague. That it is ruining college basketball. Last time I checked the UK vs Wisconsin game was the highest rated FF game in the last 25 years or something insane like that. While the refs are down and the scoring is too, reality is college basketball is doing just fine. It can be improved with in what the NCAA can control but there unless the NCAA does something silly like go back to banning freshmen from playing, there isn’t anything they can do to stop or prevent one-and-done players.

    You mention Duke’s run winning with freshmen but fail to acknowledge UK did it in 2012. You also made this statement. “Kentucky losing might have been shocking to most, but I have come to expect that from a team filled with inexperienced players and a coach, John Calipari, who has come up short of a title in more than one occurrence.”

    I can only assume that this is a slight in Cal’s coaching ability. Let’s take a look at what he has done the last 5 years. In that time he has been to the FF 4 times. OK who else has done that? Hmm John Wooden, Coach K. That’s it. Wooden won a bazillion and Coach K won 2. So not to bad in that category. But let’s look at before this season and see how Coach Cal has done compared to other great coaches/programs with his players vs. theirs.

    So that would be 3 Final Fours in 4 years. Here are those who have done it since Wooden in the 60’s. UNC with Roy and with Dean Smith. Duke with K, MSU with Izzo, Guy Lewis at Houston, Denny Crum at UofL, UCLA with Howland, Kentucky combined with 2 coaches to do it, and John Thompson at Georgetown. Wow an impressive group. But how did they all do? Well Roy won a title but 2 of the FF’s in his string of 3 out of 4 was with Kansas. Dean won once in that span as did Izzo, Crum and John Thompson. Guy Lewis didn’t and neither did Ben Howland. Rick Pitiino and Tubby both won at UK but neither took a team to 3 ff’s in 4 years…the school went.

    So really the coaches that have done that at one school all won just one title except for Coach K. I know what you are thinking and what you will say…but UK has all that talent. Yep there is a lot of it but look at say Guy Lewis, he had 2 of the NBA’s top 50 all time players on his roster and didn’t win a one. UK doesn’t have that now. UCLA had 2 NBA All-stars and didn’t do it. Dean Smith and multiple NBA All-stars and didn’t do it. John Thompson had one of the best centers in the last 40 years and only got one with him. Izzo has done the most with the least, while all these teams have had NBA players on them, only his didn’t have an All-Star on the roster when he went to those FF’s.

    Yet here is the glaring difference. All those teams did it with the same core players. Cal has done with a new roster each year what these guys did with the same key guys each year. That is impressive. To win a title doing it that way is impressive. Look at Duke this year, early exit last year, rebuild with a core of new guys (that will be gone this year) and they win a title. Coach K is said to have adapted, where Cal has been said to have ruined college basketball.

    Wither you like Cal or not…wether you like UK or not…the facts still remain the same. It has been an impressive run by the Wildcats and Coach Cal has equaled all the great coaches (minus the greatest in K) in his stretch of 3 ff’s in 4 years and has out done all but K and Wooden by going to 4 in 5 years.

  3. Your biggest problem is upsets in the tournament? Spare me. 2008 was the only year where all four 1 seeds made the Final Four and it was probably the best one ever.

    Anyways. As other commenters pointed out, this isn’t an NCAA issue. It’s an NBA issue. However, OADs are a glaring problem in college basketball. I’m not sure that it’s diluted the product, but it is, as you said, an unflattering product.

    The poster above said OADs make up .5% of all players in D1 basketball. Ok. There’s 350 D1 teams. Next… Less than 100 are relevant (debatable), and there are only about 20 that fans really really care about (I’m sorry, as someone who went to a B-Ball school, OSU is not one). So really OADs go to about 10 schools. Satisfied? What’s the percentage now?

    It’s not that OADs are ruining the game. It’s that they don’t care about the schools they play for. For alumni, this is the most glaring issue. Moreover, schools and coaches that get OADs compromise the academic integrity of their school. Duke is easily the most egregious violator of this aspect. Duke has an admissions rate of 10%, is ranked as the 7th best school in America, yet within the last few years kids from Simeon Vocational School in Chicago are getting full rides? That’s a problem. When kids work their entire lives to get into schools like Duke and get passed over for Jabari Parker because their SAT scores were just a few points too low, that is a problem. Again, like the commenter above alluded to, people have this impression that Calipari is such a scumbag, but what about guys like Coach K? He gets a pass because everyone thinks he’s such a class act. The difference is public perception. I honestly think Cal has cleaned up his image about as well as anyone possibly could At least with Cal you know what you’re getting. To me, Coach K is the scumbag. You mean to tell me coaching team USA has’ done anything for Duke? Really? Just like you’re players are all scholars, right?

    College basketball as at quite the crossroads. There is no one solution to this problem, but I think we can all agree there is a problem. And it needs to be fixed soon.

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