Is March Madness more entertaining than the NBA playoffs?
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Over the past couple of years, the NCAA tournament has become much more entertaining to watch than the NBA Playoffs due to its win or go home style. Players are more likely to give it their all in an elimination style tournament.
You can see the college players’ emotions displayed on the court at all times, especially by the fear of losing the game. Student athletes are not playing for money either, therefore they play for the love of the game and not an extended contract. And if you are not a one-and-done NBA prospect, you only have four years of playing competitive basketball which makes every game precious.
Audiences invest themselves into the story lines built as the tournament progresses and one story line that always sells are the underdogs.
The NBA playoffs are much more predictable. When the season progresses into the playoffs, there are only three to four teams that have a shot of winning the championship. But in the NCAA tournament, there are at least 16 to 18 teams that have a shot of winning it all which builds suspense and creates excitement.
For example, Villanova University, the number eight seed upset the number one seed, Georgetown University in 1985.
The last couple of years of the playoffs have given us the matchup of number one seeds and coming into this season, fans expected a third Warriors vs. Cavaliers matchup to complete a trilogy.
When watching NBA basketball, I can’t go 30 seconds without watching a grown man flop and complain about every call that doesn’t benefit his team. On the other hand, the NCAA tournament doesn’t have nearly the same amount of flops that are seen during the NBA playoffs.
NCAA tournament games are never manipulated by flopping, which makes it less frustrating to watch. NBA stars feel entitled to officiating and expect special treatment on the court. You will not see that during March Madness.
Many times in the NBA, a superstar can carry their team through the playoff and into the finals. In the NCAA tournament, the better team comes up on top, not the team with the most amount of notable players.
College basketball plays at a slower pace and is heavily reliant on zone defenses and set offense, making it nearly impossible for one player to carry his team to the Final Four.
Many will say that the NBA has the better and more athletic players, therefore making it more entertaining. However, if you look at last year’s NCAA tournament, there were a bundle of impressive highlights.
Last year’s championship game between North Carolina and Villanova is a great example. In a winner takes all game with seconds on the clock, Kris Jenkins was able to score a buzzer beater which led to Villanova to win the game.
Other companies have taken notice in the popularity in March Madness as well. The NCAA tournament produced $1.9 billion dollars in 2015 in ads alone and has generated $8.2 billion since 2006 according to the International Business Times. This has made them the second most profitable sporting event in the United States only behind the Super bowl.
With ad revenue and sponsors, the NCAA has some of the best production based on the level of play itself. They do not advertise halftime performances or showcase gimmicky events. March Madness is purely about basketball and the audience has appreciated it.
One fun thing March Madness provides for sports fans is bracketology. Every year an estimated 60 million people fill out brackets with hopes to predict it perfectly. Predicting the bracket in its entirety has one of the slimmest chance for success because of the one-game elimination. In 2015, 273 brackets out of the 11.6 million were perfect. ESPN held specials just to get former President Barrack Obama’s final four picks.
From upsets to buzzer beaters, March Madness undoubtedly has created some of the best and most unforgettable moments in sports.