The College Basketball Regular Season 2010: Prelude to March Madness

Dan SmithCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 02:  John Calipari the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to DeMarcus Cousins #15 and Patrick Patterson #54 during the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Rupp Arena on January 2, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If you want to hide someone from the mob, try putting them into the college basketball regular season. BCS honks will say that they told you their system makes the regular season matter and they might be right. The college football regular season gets the type of attention that the college basketball regular season rarely gets.

In March Madness, the college basketball postseason is as good as any other tournament in the sporting world.

Getting to March Madness, however, is not nearly as exciting.

It could be that instead of looking at the polls every week to find the top two teams, you can ignore the polls and wait for the field of 65.

It could be that we really do not know our college basketball stars anymore. We saw Carmelo Anthony for one amazing, championship season then it was on to the NBA for him. And that was one more season than we saw of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in college.

The one and done player, like John Wall this season, has turned the college basketball landscape into that of auditions for draft positions. Players that stay for two or three years are seen as lesser talents. And if you are a senior in college basketball then you better earn your degree.

The days of a Tim Duncan staying four years because he likes college are simply over.

The NBA game has not really suffered but the NBA has never been the purest form of basketball.

Basketball at its purest was Dean Smith preaching team concepts to his McDonald's All-Americans or Bobby Knight running the motion offense with his unique way of motivating young players.

Now, we have Kevin Durant's number being retired at Texas after one season.

I think the NBA's rule about the draft is absurd. They are telling an 18-year-old young man, who can vote and fight for this country, that he cannot gain employment.

That leads to horror stories like that of OJ Mayo, who can go to the pros after one year at USC and now USC is under a self-imposed penalty. Tim Floyd also lost his job so he could coach Mayo for one season.

How much coaching is really going on? Is Thad Matta really able to teach Evan Turner like he would a junior that is backing him up?

It seems like he should be able to since there is no way that Turner will be back for his sophomore season. The bright lights of the NBA are shining in Turner's eyes, so his ears are not listening as Matta teaches the fundamentals of the game.

We watched John Calipari try to coach DeMarcus Cousins on national TV and we all saw that Cousins was not going to hear any of that.

There are very few coaches in the NBA like Larry Brown who will actually take the time to teach the game to his players at a time when NBA has never been so bereft of fundamentals.

SportsCenter shows us the amazing things these players can do now, but if you watch an NBA game and you watch how poorly the pick and roll is defended then you have to see the fundamental breakdowns.

North Carolina is a good example; in one season, they went from an experienced team that won the national title to a bubble team.

Great sporting leagues benefit from dynasties and there has not been a true dynasty in college basketball since John Wooden coached UCLA.

Florida and Duke are the last two schools that even repeated as national champs.

The Florida team was so much better than everyone else because their players chose to come back while the rest of the country saw their one-and-done players flee for the riches of the NBA.

Look at the conferences this year and you will see that the ACC and Pac-10 are down.

Arizona has been to 25 straight NCAA tournaments and are tied for the lead in the Pac-10, but only with a modestly average 12-9 record. It is the first year of the Sean Miller era and he looks to be able to continue the run, but that is a sign of the watered down talent spread across the country.

The BCS makes the college football regular season relevant and makes the college football postseason a joke. The college basketball regular season is as close to a joke as it has ever been.

The only thing that saves the season is that it is a prelude to the greatest survive-and-advance tournament that we know.

Kentucky has a great freshmen class and is a title contender. Next year they will probably be struggling like North Carolina is this year but ask Jim Boeheim if he cares that he has not been back to the Final Four since he won it all in 2003.

He probably is okay with how things have worked out since he looks to be back in the Final Four this year with his Syracuse team.

Kansas, Villanova, and Texas are my picks to join Syracuse.

Of course, once the madness starts, brackets go up in flames and we all forget how we got to March Madness...

We just know that we are finally there.