Marcus Paige of the North Carolina Tar Heels had just made an off-balance shot with 4.7 seconds left on the clock, tieing the game against the Villanova Wildcats with 74 points. Fans were on the edge of their seats, holding their breaths as they watched the possibility of a championship fly at a hundred miles per hour towards them. With 3 seconds at midcourt, the Wildcats rushed the court and Kris Jenkins, somehow keeping his composure, sunk a game-winning shot that made the crowd explode with exhilaration. They had won their first NCAA championship in 30 years, and beating the No. 1 at that.
A game as action-packed as the buzzer beater victory on April 5th seems to be the perfect ending to an equally thrilling college basketball season. The next day, social media was buzzing, and viewers everywhere were in awe of the perfect, gripping game the night before. Burlingame High even felt the impact of the exhilarating win despite the Pac-12’s embarrassing defeats. It was a game that made sports fans everywhere proud. However, the lack of media coverage of this year’s March Madness tournament indicates otherwise.
Sophomore Pablo Detimofeev, an avid sports fan who started following the NCAA last year to gain insight on potential college opportunities and learn from the athletes, says that since the most reputable teams were knocked out early in the tournament, a lot of fans were turned off of the NCAA.
“There weren’t a lot of exciting new prospects for the NBA that made it through the first round,” Detimofeev said, admitting that college basketball may not be as exciting as mainstream NBA teams. While there were a few standout players in the league, prospects like Buddy Hield from Oklahoma State never even made it to the tournament. To top it off, Bay Area residents could forget about Pac-12 teams, because their chances were slim from the start.
Nationally and locally, March Madness lost a lot of the excitement that the tournament got its name from.
Another Burlingame sophomore and lifetime Warriors fan, Rory Douglas, admits that “the NCAA just isn’t that interesting,” and was more excited about the Warriors’ chase for a record-breaking 73 wins, which was finally achieved on April 13th, a now historical day in the NBA. When asked about being a bandwagoner, both Douglas and Detimofeev laughed and gave an assured “no.” Burlingame High, along with the rest of the Bay Area, has a solid amount of dedicated sports fans, but depth of that fanaticism varies from casual NBA viewers to invested college and professional basketball experts. The surging numbers of enthusiastic basketball fans due to the Warriors’ success means that the NCAA, at least for this year, will get the short end of the stick in terms of media coverage.
With so much talent on one team, it’s no wonder that Bay Area residents are turning a blind eye to the Pac-12 failures and, in extension, the March Madness tournament.
Nevertheless, some avid sports fans have been tuning in to college sports. Even varsity basketball coach Pete Harames states that the enthusiastic nature of school sports, which is not “tainted by money, egos, and individual play,” makes the NCAA a more enjoyable experience for those who want to skip the politics of sports and watch a good game. Whether or not a March Madness game is entertaining enough depends on the eye of the beholder, but there is something for everyone in the sports world this year. Game changers in college sports across the country and record breaking feats from the pros give Bay Area sports fans a lot of options to follow, but regardless of taste, this is an era of historical proportion in California.