We’re getting closer to the start of the greatest winter sport there is. No, all you New Englanders, not hockey. Basketball. College basketball, specifically. If you’re a big hockey fan, you might think that a good, hard check amidst a 2-1 victory is the essence of exciting sport. But I disagree. I’d rather see fast-paced, high-scoring action and ridiculously athletic plays.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the NBA. But when it comes to honest, motivated competition, I don’t need to look any further than the college game. The players just seem to care more about the brotherhood of being on a team than the professional players do. They run plays that are more team-oriented rather than the professional pick-and-roll staple employed by just about everybody in the NBA.
And that’s not to mention the most exciting two-and-a-half weeks in all of sports: March Madness. College basketball’s end-of-season tournament never fails to be riveting television, year after year. There always seems to be a Cinderella story, a lesser-known school beating some of the big boys and capturing the nation’s attention on the way. In the past, it’s been teams like Virginia Commonwealth University, Butler University and George Mason University that have been able to pull off upset after upset.
This year, who knows? Maybe it could be us. It’s Boston University’s first year in the Patriot League. There are 10 teams in the league, including Army, Navy, Bucknell, and Lehigh. The most successful basketball school in the Patriot League recently has been Bucknell, who became the first Patriot League team to win an NCAA tournament game by upsetting Kansas University in 2005.
Take a second and think how incredible it’d be for BU to be in the NCAA tournament. The last time the Terriers took part was 2011, as a 16th- (and lowest) seeded team offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the top-seeded Jayhawks. At that time, BU played in the America East Conference. To get back this year, the Terriers will most likely have to win the Patriot League tournament.
It’s definitely going to be a great season of college basketball. Many schools welcome sensational recruiting classes. An example is the Kentucky Wildcats: they successfully recruited twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison (two of the top 10 prospects in the class of 2017, according to ESPN.com), among other five-star players. The top prospect in the class is Andrew Wiggins, who’s attracted comparisons to LeBron James. He’ll be attending Kansas, probably only for a year. Most of the top freshmen are now one-year specials at their schools, before heading off to the fame and fortune of the NBA.
Another major story this year in college basketball is the large-scale conference shuffling. Schools such as Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh are changing over. This realignment, done for monetary purposes, will no doubt create new rivalries and create some great drama in conference tournaments.
With potential storylines like these, what is somewhat difficult to understand is how in Boston, such a basketball-crazy city, BU’s basketball team gets little to no attention compared to the hockey team. I get that the men’s hockey team is fantastic, winning a national title in 2009. I know that there’s not a whole lot of tradition in our men or women’s basketball program. But in the city where professional basketball was essentially born, how is it that the school with the namesake of the city doesn’t get a lot of fan support for its basketball teams?
It’s not very hard to change that. If you’re bored at night and you know there’s a game going on, grab some friends and make your way over to Case Gymnasium. If you enjoy basketball at all, you’ll love BU basketball. It’s Division I, high-quality fare. The team returns all of its starters, and it’s got a decent chance to get to the Big Dance this year. And if they do, you never know, maybe they could upset a major program, and put Boston University on the map of college basketball.
Again, I can understand why hockey has such an appeal up here. But the basketball team deserves just as much support. I’m biased, I’ll admit. I’ve never been a big hockey fan, and I’ve been playing and following basketball since I was in a crib. My high school had a massive following of the boys’ and girls’ teams. So I need some live basketball to watch (preferably for free, although I’ll probably check out a Celtics game or three), and I’d love to have some company at the games.
The men’s basketball season begins Nov. 10 against Northeastern University at the TD Garden. The women’s season begins Nov. 8, also against Northeastern in Case Gym.