NCAA men’s March Madness is better than the NBA Playoffs


Photo courtesy of The Tylt

Sports reporter Reece Taylor finds the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to be more entertaining than the NBA Playoffs.

The day is March 25, 2022. My NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness Bracket is cooked. To be fair, it was officially done after the very first game, but after the losses suffered by Arizona and Gonzaga, who I had picked to win the tournament, I officially have zero teams left in my Final Four… and I couldn’t be happier.

Every March Madness, there are upsets, heroics, and Cinderella teams that you can’t help but root for (for men’s and women’s basketball, but for brevity, I’m focusing on the men’s). It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-seed or the top-ranked prospect for the upcoming NBA draft, your team has one game at a time to prove they deserve to win. Every single game matters, every single shot matters, and every play on the court matters as these teams chase immortality. This dramatic format is the antithesis of the NBA Playoffs.

As a lifelong fan of the NBA, I admit that it has a major problem. You can pretty much guess the winner of each series, barring a major injury. Year after year of the highest bidder, the biggest market, and super teams stockpiling MVP candidates to run roughshod over the league have made me bitter towards the NBA. There’s no drama, but most of all, there’s no fun. Long gone are the days of Bird vs. Magic and Shaq vs. Duncan. Where is the fight?

I understand that the NBA has bigger names and a collection of the best players on the planet, but the NCAA is far better for one simple reason: Hunger. In the NBA there’s a sense that the rich get richer and you can predict the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals pretty reliably, outside of the occasional Milwaukee Bucks or Detroit Pistons. You can easily argue the same with Power 5 teams, but let’s take a closer look at the top seeds.

According to Sportsbook, in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga, Arizona, Kentucky, and Kansas had the best odds to win. Only Kansas remains. In the Sweet 16, there is a 15 seed, an eight seed, and a 10 vs 11 seed. Games have gone from blowouts to buzzer beaters. Of the top-ranked NBA prospects, only Purdue’s Jaden Ivey and Duke’s Paulo Banchero remains. 

I’ll be honest, I’ve never even heard of the Saint Peter’s Peacocks before this tournament, but one thing is certain. I know who they are now. Not just the Peacocks, but every Cinderella team and player in the tourney. Their hunger is what propelled them to the top, and they were chasing immortality. 

In the NBA, champions aren’t reserved to the hungriest, or even the most talented. It’s about the highest bidder. Teams like the Los Angeles  Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and the Brooklyn Nets are able to lure major names into the bright lights and virtually sweep every team en route to a championship. There’s no competition or sport to it.

In the NCAA Tournament, these athletes are chasing immortality. Most of them won’t make it to the NBA, and the few who do will likely be out in five  years or less, but the prospect of winning an NCAA title is beyond compare for them. Out of 68 teams, you have one shot in each round. These players and teams like these odds. They just want to win.