By Craig Fields
Ahhh… March Madness how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. That’s that magical time of year that is like Halloween candy, Christmas gifts, or Thanksgiving dinner all rolled into one, satisfying even the most insatiable appetites of those college basketball junkies out there. Countless tournament games take place to basically crown the “best” team in college basketball. There is plenty to be said about one of the most polarizing sporting events of the calendar year. Plenty to say. Unfortunately, as of late, not all of it is good. Actually plenty can be said that actually defaces this popular time of year.
Is it just me or has the talent on display during March Madness declined over the past few years. Now I am in no way saying that the excitement has declined but some of the overall talent has. I personally put some of the blame on the rule that has been put in place since 2006. As reported by CollegeSportsScholarships.com, in 2006, the NBA adopted a new rule requiring entrants to its draft to be at least 19 years old during the draft’s calendar year and one NBA season to have elapsed since the player graduated from high school. For some time prior to the adoption of this rule, players could enter the NBA draft immediately out of high school. After the adoption of this rule, however, the college programs saw a handful of young men join their teams for one season and leave them immediately afterward to enter the NBA draft.
Since this rule was put in place players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, and Eric Gordon have been “one and done” players that, if they were lucky, got the chance to dazzle us once in March. Talented players like these are few and far between. Just imagine if we, as the public consumers of college basketball, could have seen players like these stick around for their junior and senior years providing more of those heart pounding and exhilarating moments that epitomize the NCAA tournament. Stephen Curry, from Davidson, stayed in college through his junior year and that benefited his NBA draft stock as well as got him March Madness recognition when his 10th seeded Davidson Wildcats made it to the Elite 8 solely on his shooting prowess. That 2008 tournament was, in my opinion, one of the best in the last 10 years.
Colleges that were once a shoe in to get into the Big Dance tournament field now are jostling for elbow room with some of the lesser programs. The state of Texas had no teams in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1977. That’s right you read correctly. No Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UTEP etc. These teams just didn’t have the talent to compete night in night out. The fast turnover rate and departure of recruited athletes is so ridiculous that it is hard to keep any kind of traction or continuity between teams. Last year’s champions, the Kentucky Wildcats, didn’t even make the Big Dance this year because they had to replace everyone after last year’s championship run. Will someone, anyone, please stop this madness?