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When a college basketball season collectively faces adversity, sports broadcaster and former coach Dick Vitale may be the only one who can provide clarity about why.
Three top achievers in NCAA men’s Division I basketball are playing in a way many haven’t seen, and Vitale said he sees two major factors that could be causing these traditionally powerful teams to struggle this season: lack of fans and limited non-conference scheduling.
Vitale said Kentucky lost a handful of close games and said not having fans in the stands could play a role in those losses.
“I’ll bet you if those 23,000 were in the crowd, the passionate Kentucky fans, what an advantage that is. You still have a slight home-court advantage,” Vitale told FanSided. “You’re sleeping in the same bed. You’re shooting at the same baskets the vision that a home-court advantage to a certain extent, but it’s not the same as you’re getting that edge with the crowd there giving you that lift when you’re struggling.”
The Wildcats have won a total of eight NCAA men’s Division I college basketball championships in their history. Their most recent win came in 2012 when the No. 1 seeded Wildcats defeat Kansas 67-59.
With many conferences requiring league-only scheduling, Vitale said the pandemic has disrupted the learning curve young teams need with non-conference games.
“The top three teams in recruiting last year were Kentucky, Duke and Carolina,” he said. “When they got in conference they’ve all been struggling because they couldn’t have those cupcake games part of their season, play five or six games guys get familiar with one another. You learn a little bit about college basketball, get acclimated to what they are going to face.”
Duke has brought home five championships. Their the most recent victory happened in 2015 when the No. 1 seeded Blue Devils defeated Wisconsin 68-63.
North Carolina, on the other hand, has won six championships with the most recent in 2017 when the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga 71-65.
Vitale said the pandemic-plagued season has helped schools that normally don’t have players jumping to the NBA early in their college careers.
“You look at Baylor and Gonzaga, they’re great,” he said. “They’re skilled, they’re talented, but they’ve got veterans, they’ve got players who have been through it.”
5 CommentsLeave a Reply
Stop recruiting all one and dones. They have no team interest.
i think the missing fans is actually hurting the game and hurting all sports. it hurts the product and it turns off fans that watch on tv.
in baseball fans don’t seem to matter as far as the game, but still …
100% agree. You don’t realize what a huge part of the emotion and passion of the games fans are until they’re gone. It’s nowhere near the same. It’s far more boring tv for sure. Even the announcers aren’t as emotional without the crowd adding to the atmosphere.
Full attendance and loud fans create an electric atmosphere. With that missing it no doubt hurts the normal home court or home field advantage and 100% hurts the viewing experience.
I don’t disagree with Vitale but I think that is only a small part of it. We saw the modern day “blue bloods” in football dominate. Why? Player leadership and experience.
It says a lot about that when you had 2 players dress and play for Alabama that had no business playing against OSU granted Dickerson just took knell down snaps. That being said leadership among players matters. Yes talent matters too. In football you have 20/21 year old team leaders with 2-3 years of experience to help the young guys. In many blue blood college basketball programs those guys are 18/19 with 1 or less years of experience. If anything the sports COVID experience has show discipline matters. An 18 year old 1 and done does not have the same discipline as a 21 year old junior or senior.
Fans matter sure. Look at WVU running off 6 straight road wins while losing 3 at home over the same span.