The analysis of College Basketball like it is College Football is absurd. College Hoops is Not College Football, period.
College Basketball culture is different from College Football culture in so many ways and it is mind-boggling how even the most rational of minds could get the two crossed up. It is so easy for fans of the SEC that follow College Basketball for two months a year, which is an incredibly generous amount of basketball to follow, to make such bold assumptions about how the sport actually works. Spelling out the differences is really important because ignorance spreads like wildfire, after all look at the overall political system not just in the United States, but around the globe. So let’s “footballsplain” things and get uncomfortable shall we? Trigger Warning.
1. Signing 5 Star Talent Guarantees a Championship or Ranked Status… Not True
Even the king of one-and-done, John Calipari, has only won ONE NCAA Championship in his entire career. With 5 Star talent, he took his 2012-13 team to the NIT and lost in the first round to Robert Morris. John Calipari is a Hall of Fame Coach and if it is tough for him to bring a program to the Promised Land, imagine others.
Teams with better recruiting classes do tend to win more, but the coach has to be really good. The storied programs attract great coaches and they stay there. There is a permanent blue blood upper class in College Basketball. There are no years in the wilderness like in College Football. In College Basketball, there is a Warren Buffett sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that the best College Basketball coaches as far as development and game planning get the best recruits. It is not just about being the best “salesman” and the school cultures and names hold so much more value. The focus on the talent level of the Blue Bloods really diminishes how well coached these teams are.
On Thursday in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, #5 seed Baylor had supremely better talent, but #12 seed Yale was able to beat them on a neutral floor. Why? Yale’s coach had a better gameplan and his student-athletes that do not even receive athletic scholarships never lost their discipline. It is also very possible that the athletic abilities of the Yale student-athletes were underestimated due to their Ivy League pedigree. Cases like these are why College Hoops is different animal than College Football. The physicality, depth and game planning would never allow such upsets to happen toward the end of the season in College Football. North Dakota State’s Football Team is not going to beat Ohio State’s Football team like the way #15 seed Middle Tennessee State was able to knock off #2 seed Michigan State. There’s a reason why it is called March Madness, there are so many more elements in play. It seems anecdotal, but hammers home an important point.
For the sake of giving an interesting example, let’s give you a mystery roster that is just assembled by Rivals’ star ratings.
What team is this? They are a really good team. Not to spoil things now, this answer will be saved for the end. Here’s a second team to examine.
Class of 2015:
Class of 2014:
Class of 2013:
Class of 2012:
Here’s a third team to examine. This is a team that fans may know rather well.
Class of 2015:
Class of 2014:
Class of 2013:
Here’s a fourth team and make sure to check at the end of the article for the answers. This program had some one and dones.
Class of 2015:
Class of 2014:
Class of 2012:
2. College Football Plays are Simple and Terminal. College Basketball is Tougher to Understand.
Most College Basketball fans cannot understand much of the play on the floor, imagine how a fan that is accustomed to watching College Football and barely understands Basketball feels when watching the game. Lost. Either the shots are wide open or someone is on fire, that’s about the extent of understanding out there. It’s a shame because Basketball is a far more complex game filled with reads, matchups, pacing and styles that are unique possibly to one particular program.
Put that offensive box set in front of a College Football fan that hardly pays attention to Basketball and the looks generated will provide enough laughs for a day.
College Football – the play is far simpler. There’s no continuity needed, you do one job that’s all. The only person that really has to make an impactful decision of sorts is the Quarterback.
In College Football, coaches will run the same plays a lot. In College Hoops, the same sets could be used a lot, but there are motion offenses allow for read and react and offenses that have options within each part of the offense. The action is much more unpredictable in Basketball as there can be just a simple set of rules regarding where the players are positioned and whether the concepts of fill and replace apply.
In College Basketball, there’s no line ’em up and [insert thing here] down their throat. It’s about exploiting matchups and making opponents do something that they do not feel comfortable doing. There’s a counter to every style and fundamentals come before raw talent. There’s also not enough time to prepare for each opponent and coaches evolve as a season goes on. Most College Basketball Teams are able to play different styles, but in College Football everything is more regimented. Basketball is a sport of continuity while Football is a sport that resembles how wars were fought in the 1700s. Lineup and fight with bands playing.
3. Where do the top recruits come from?
College Basketball recruits come from large cities and College Football recruits are more likely to come from smaller towns and suburbs. 84 out of 150 College Basketball recruits came from cities with a population of 100,000 or greater. 103 out of 150 came from cities with a population greater than 50,000. The mean population of the hometown of College Basketball recruits is 524,981. The median population is 130,924.
66 out of 150 College Football recruits come from cities with a population of 100,000 or greater. 90 out of 150 came from cities with a population greater than 50,000. The mean population of the hometown of College Football recruits is 218,723. The median population is 72,725.
College Basketball is not only an international game, but it is a game where many top High School student-athletes attend preparatory schools far away from their actual hometowns. These are High School students attending academies in small, sleepy suburbs away from their homes in the inner cities. Most of the Rivals Top 150 did not attend a public institution. These are phenomena that are experienced far less in High School Football. Some of these academies are of questionable quality and are even considered diploma mills.
College Basketball Top 10 States of 2015 Rivals Top 150
These states just so happen to have the most populated states in the United States. There are 11 states on this list as there is a tie. Of the 11 most populated states in the country, 8 are represented in this list. 84 of the Top 150 come from these 11 states. There may seem to be a disproportionate number of student-athletes from New Hampshire, but they are not actually from New Hampshire. The actual hometowns were taken into account in these findings, not the city of the preparatory school is located. Everyone knows that Ben Simmons is not from Florida, he’s from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
College Football Top 10 States of 2015 Rivals Top 150
Six of the top ten states are represented in the Top 10 most populated states in the country. 116 of the Top 150 come from these states.
Georgia fans are accustomed to Georgia Football scooping up a large number of football recruits from the State of Georgia. Many of the Georgia recruits are from small towns and the 2015 Georgia Football team was not only in the Top 10 for smallest mean hometown population of the student-athletes, but interestingly, the Top 10 lowest median household income of the hometown of the student-athletes.
Georgia Basketball recruiting in the State of Georgia is mainly focused on the Atlanta metro area, which is transplant heavy. Georgia’s 2016 Class happens to be an anomaly right now as it is comprised of two recruits from the Wiregrass Region that are underrated 4 star prospects because they are not from Atlanta. Due to the transplant nature of the Atlanta populace, there is no sense of in-state loyalty and out of state programs with strong Basketball reputations have been able to clean up quite nicely.
4. The idea of “Build a Fence/Wall Around the State!”
Saying this out loud and coming off possessive about it is rather alienating. However, there are still people that would say something so tone deaf, in 2016. No, the recruits do not belong to anyone and UGA is not a plantation. No institution of higher learning is a plantation, no matter what Paul Finebaum’s callers may say. It is a phrase that smacks of idiocy and ignorance, we are better than this. The University of Georgia is a global academic and research institution, it is not a Football Team. (This is a statement that has and never could be said on any UGA-related platform, but it is stated here because we are all better than this.) No recruit belongs to any institution, no student-athlete nor student is bound to stay at an academic institution that they attend.
These are matters that need to be hammered home and there are other publications that may take great offense to these characterizations, but this mentality still exists and it reflects poorly.
Four stayed in-state and three went to the SEC (Georgia and Auburn). The rest went to reputable “Basketball Schools”.
Georgia landed two of the top five, which is better than what Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes can claim. However, three schools that made the NCAA Tournament this season were able to land recruits in this list. They all happen to not be in the Southeast. The Class of 2015 recruits from the State of Georgia was not considered as deep as 2016, but four non-southern institutions were able to lure recruits out. Some of the recruits from the State of Georgia leave before their Junior and Senior years of High School to attend preparatory institutions in Florida and in other states. Attending these preparatory institutions provides these High School student-athletes with greater exposure on a national stage. Two such examples are Doral Moore and Noah Dickerson.
Talent is not isolated to a particular location in the sport of Basketball. Quality recruits that want to be student-athletes at the University of Georgia can be found out of state and sometimes the sales pitch can be as easy as the weather and lifestyle on campus. The idea of staying home because a parent is in state may not necessarily make a difference with the transplants as more friends and family may be in alternative destination. In-state pride is not an argument for staying home in the Atlanta area as home is somewhere else.
Consider that Turtle Jackson, Charles Mann and Derek Ogbeide are all transplants to the Athens-Atlanta corridor. Turtle Jackson is originally from Buffalo (Amherst to be exact), Charles Mann is originally from Queens and Derek Ogbeide is the most traveled man on this squad having lived in four different nations. It is a challenge to bring in student-athletes that are content with staying in-state.
However, Georgia has fared well with out-of-state recruits and many Georgia greats and future greats called somewhere else home. Yante Maten is from Pontiac, Michigan and his decision to come to Georgia does not seem so bad. Sundiata Gaines was from Jamaica, Queens and he attended a powerhouse Parochial School, Archbishop Molloy, he’s also one of the most beloved Georgia Bulldogs of all time. Vern Fleming is from Long Island City in Queens. Tom Brennan is from New Jersey. The list goes on from there. Georgia does not have to source student-athletes within the state just because it is convenient. The University of Georgia is a global institution and it should treated as a desirable destination. Putting UGA before ‘GA’ is what is needed.
There is far less geographic consolidation of talented High School student-athletes in Basketball and the evaluation of recruits is still rather behind Football.
5. College Basketball is Actually Year Round Just Like Football: Many Just Don’t Know It
College Basketball is not just March Madness, if it was, then College Football should just be one giant elimination playoff and the regular season does not need to exist. Seems silly? Of course and so is the antiquated, participation trophy concept that is Bowl Season.
College Basketball does not have Spring Practices and Spring Games like College Football, but it has a different sort of a schedule. There are two recruiting seasons, an AAU evaluation period, year-round practice (even during the offseason, which is limited to an extent), more intensive Fall Practice, secret scrimmage and exhibition games, non-conference play, conference play, conference tournaments, the postseason tournaments and to close it all out the Coaching and Transfer Carousel that is known as Silly Season.
Mainstream media do not cover College Basketball from the Championship Game through Midnight Madness unless there is a major hiring that takes place in April. College Basketball really is 24/7/365 and it can consume lives in ways that can be downright troubling.
6. College Football and College Basketball Fans are Wired and even Raised Differently
One might think this is divisive and it is not intended to be that way, but there is a reason why almost all programs fail to have equally passionate support for both College Football and College Basketball. The value systems of the fans/alumni just so happen to be different. Different political views and free expression of said views are wonderful things that are taken for granted in the United States. However, with different political views there is also a contrast in associated values, interests, tastes and brands that individuals have and enjoy.
An individual’s political views whether they be Populist, Socialist, Progressive, Moderate, Conservative, Libertarian or Third Way are more or less a symptom of how one perceives the world around them regardless of realization. There are scientific findings that show that political views may actually be genetic to some degree and that many individuals do not realize their natural inclinations or are latent in acting upon them. One of the first attempts to explain this phenomenon was published in 2011 by Virginia Commonwealth University in conjunction with Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Washington University St. Louis and the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. Political views and how they shape the minds of individuals is a blend of nature and nurture. Political views are not segmented from the way an individual thinks and perceives the world around them, it actually is a manifestation of the way an individual communicates, identifies and reacts.
“Do political temperaments spring from the same biological sources as other personal temperaments and psychological traits, or is political thought distinct from other components of our behavior? Which biological systems are connected to which political belief structures? While, at all costs, we want to avoid claiming too much for early findings, our data give preliminary support to the hypothesis that whatever relationship exists between politics and genetics, it may be those genetic loci that influence flexibility in information processing and cognition. There is also some evidence, though weak, that the biological systems which influence political attitudes may be the ones related to those which regulate fear and anxiety (Hatemi and McDermott 2009; Oxley et al. 2008) or even possibly mate selection and disgust (Eaves et al. 2010; Navarrete and Fessler 2006). Whether or not it is a function of fear and loathing, betrothing and sexual desire, success of offspring, or other factors, eventually we may better understand the genetic variance behind political dispositions through locating genes by genome-wide analyses and working through the biological mechanisms that those genes are known to influence. We contend the pursuit of such knowledge is best approached using a variety of neurobiological, cultural, and environmental methods.” – A Genome-Wide Analysis of Liberal and Conservative Political Attitudes, Virginia Commonwealth University.
In the United States, often times, the undergraduate experience is a decision that is steeped in self-selection. An individual that is a bit crunchy, has inclinations toward egalitarianism (not activism, just the values of equality within ordinary life) and does not enjoy sports would not be a good fit for the University of Alabama and would not bother applying to the institution, even if the individual is an in-state resident. This individual would likely try to attend a small private college or university like Reed College where eventually the latent progressive political views will manifest. Student section attendance at College Football games in the SEC fell during the brunt of the Great Recession because the students that did not identify with the prevailing cultures at the thirteen of fourteen public institutions enrolled because of financial struggles. The elements of Fit and Balance that are crucial to a positive undergraduate experience were eschewed in favor of fiscal prudence.
One can learn about an individual’s political views by the way that they label and characterize individuals or things. A study at the University of Kent led by Dr. Aleksandra Cichocka found that liberals and conservatives are different in their method of identification. (Feel free to click on the article link and try to see whether your method of referencing matches your political views.) This concept is important because it may point to the fact that those of different political views may identify with other related characteristics on a spectrum.
Courtesy of National Journal is the image above. The college programs represented are strictly on a College Football fan basis.
Take a look at the above two charts: Notice the placement of the Georgia Bulldogs sphere in the first chart and the College Football sphere in the second chart. The logical conclusion based on these two charts is that Georgia Bulldogs Football fans are a more Republican/Conservative skewed group and based on recent GOP Primary Election results have a populist and in some cases, authoritarian lean.
Look for where the College Basketball sphere is located in the second chart and then in the first chart look for Michigan State Spartans. It is interesting how Michigan State lines up in nearly the exact same location. It is also not a surprise that Michigan State Football and Basketball enjoy nearly equal support from fans and alumni. Michigan State is a true multi-sport institution. College Basketball fans would best be described as moderates. There are College Basketball fans of different political inclinations, but the majority are rather centrist. Perhaps appropriately, Michigan is a state with greater balance in governance and representation between both major parties than the State of Georgia. Michigan is considered as a possible new “swing state” in the upcoming Presidential Election. What can sports tell people about the political atmosphere in Michigan?
Who do you trust? Trust components also fall into line with these characteristics.
If political views are a by-product of the way an individual perceives, communicates and participates with the world, it is no wonder that the idea of College Basketball to the Georgia Bulldog Football fan is completely foreign. In fact, the individuals that enjoy College Basketball even communicate and understand similar nuances that those more inclined toward College Football may never understand. It is like speaking a different language and it is why the College Basketball community does often frown upon College Football pundits opining about the sport. College Basketball culture is more elitist and College Football despite the pomp and circumstance has a more populist cultural strain. The College Football fan would not understand that recruiting is more than just bringing in the so-called best talent because talent evaluators do not know what each specific coach needs, the coaches do or at least should. The coaches do get it wrong as well, but the talent evaluators foul things up without any sort of accountability. College Football fans are more prone to trust authority figures, especially the recruiting gurus.
In College Basketball, everything is so fluid from the level of competition and exposure to growth spurts. Stephen Curry was considered too frail by evaluators and he went to Davidson because he did not receive offers from major schools. We know now what Stephen Curry is capable of doing and Davidson moved up to Atlantic 10 in the aftermath of Curry’s success. Recruits can come out of nowhere to become so-called 4 star recruits and some recruits retain their star ratings to justify a previous evaluation that may not reflect the current recruit’s ability in comparison to the rest of the class. In College Basketball World, if recruiting rankings meant everything, then Kentucky would never lose a game, ever. March Madness and non-conference tournaments provide those humbling moments to remind fans to always question and to make evaluations free of what influencers may say.
College Basketball is a sport that enjoys parity and rewards those that question, adapt quickly and are not afraid to take risks. Risks are taken all the time in College Basketball, but in the sport of Football, coaches are risk-averse and so are the athletes. The mere willingness to do something out of the ordinary on occasion is regarded as being a ‘gambler’.
Watch the political candidates and their supporters, not the AstroTurf protesters nor compensated (with influence or money) members of the audiences. Note how audiences react to mentions of police and seemingly apolitical authority members, they command respect and applause from the Republicans, but yet Democrats question these authority members with great vitriol at times. Democrats would praise authorities that are geared toward causes that are inherently political by nature because there are divides in belief of whether the authority presence should exist in the first place. Politicians poll test what gets the rousing responses and will make sure to say it in their stump speeches every single time. Responses to these seemingly apolitical bodies carries over into other authority figures that are rather harmless and unnoticeable.
To those unfamiliar with this publication and those that were expecting a College Football article, it seems extremely disappointing to read through all this, but most give up midway through and if there is a interactive question/challenge to complete most end up skipping to the end anyway! These differences are not the only ones that exist between the two sports and the cultures, but this should at least provide some form of an understanding that College Basketball is not like College Football.
Yes, you skipped through all those sections just to find out the answers here.
Program #1: Michigan State
Program #2: Oklahoma
Program #3: LSU
Program #4: UNLV
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