by Doug Potter
Men’s College Basketball is very different than the NBA, we know that. But why? We can throw away the obvious answers; age, experience, skill level, and the abundance of hefty salaries left and right. Why then do people enjoy watching the college kids shoot the rock more than the superstars in the NBA if the NBA has bigger, faster, older, more skilled guys playing the game we all love for a living? One reason: The Fans.
The fans at almost ANY college basketball game will include the likes of chest painting, chants, signs, and the rowdy student section, while the NBA resorts to playing hit music on the most recent top 20 countdown to keep the fans interested during the game. As much as it kills me to say this, the best place to watch a basketball game at ANY level has to be Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC, home of the Duke Blue Devils. The arena seats less than 10,000 but it’s clearly quality not quantity. The atmosphere, which includes the roughly 2,000 “Cameron Crazies” made up of the die-hard students of Duke University, is one of the hardest to play in for visiting teams. This is solely because of the fans and their drive to support their team, which greatly exceeds the drive of NBA fans.
We now switch our attention from one of the greatest college basketball programs of all time to this seasons’ deepest conference, the Big East. At one point two weeks ago, this conference had nine teams in the Top 25 and still currently has eight (with six in the top 12). The main reason for their success has got to be their ability to defend their home court. It’s next to impossible for a team in the Big East to win on the road. Literally.
After tonight, with UConn withstanding the storm brought on them by a good Villanova team earning them a good home win and Rutgers falling to a hot Louisville team at home, all Big East teams are now a combined 142-33 (.811 win pct.) at home! Now tell me the home teams aren’t putting something in their water! Looking even further, though, the current top 8 teams in the Big East standings (Marquette, Louisville, UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, Providence, Georgetown, and Notre Dame) are 83-6 (.933 win pct) when they put on their home white uni’s.
The most recent impressive home win came this past Saturday from the conference’s hottest team as the Louisville Cardinals defeated the previously top-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers 69-63 at home and with their win tonight, Louisville has now won five in a row with quality wins such as a much improved Kentucky team, Villanova, and Notre Dame. The Cardinals are now 14-3 overall after suffering from an abysmal start with losses to Western Kentucky, Dayton, and UNLV. They are now 5-0 in the conference and on the season they are hmm… 11-1 at home, what a coincidence!
The home cookin’ in the Big East this year is more apparent than ever. I’m not saying it won’t change eventually and start to even itself out, but for right now I think it’s safe to say we all can start a petition for the Big East tournament to be moved to a neutral site. (St. John’s now has 2 to 1 odds, which continue to rise, to be the Big East Tournament Champs)