Monday, July 7, 2014

If you could choose any college basketball team to be a fan of, which would it be?

Fandom is strange in that, like your family, you really don't get a choice. True fandom is something that just happens to you—usually by inheritance, but sometimes by happenstance or osmosis. I submit that if you chose to be a fan of some team, then you aren't really a fan. (To put it bluntly, you're an asshole.)

Anyhow, what if you could choose? You'd want to choose a winner, obviously. And you'd probably want to choose a clean program with a likeable coach, preferably one who will be around for a good long time. I think you'd want to choose a program that gets top recruits, since following recruiting is kind of its own fun thing.

After the Badgers beat Arizona last year and Sean Miller gushed about how happy he was for Bo, I got a little emotional and declared some secondary allegiance to Arizona. I meant it at the time, but I doubt it will stick. We'll see. But if I could choose to be a fan of a team, Arizona would certainly be a finalist. They have a great young coach, get top recruits, and seem poised to head to multiple final fours, if not win national titles, in the coming years.

But I think there's an even better program you could choose: Kansas. Bill Self is still just 52 years old, and there's no reason to think he's going anywhere, ever. They've got tradition, and they're the only game in town. I guess the only reason not to be a Kansas fan is that the expectations would be so high every year. Anything less than a final four is probably equivalent to the Badgers losing in the first round. But, still, I'd take Kansas.

What do you guys think?


  1. As a UCLA fan, I find I have secondary rooting tendencies for all the other Pac-12 teams, even rivals like Arizona. So long as they're not playing UCLA, I tend to wish them well. And since I no longer live in LA, I usually find a local rooting interest, e.g., Maryland. If I had to pick a program cold, I'd probably pick one where I had a lot of respect for the coach. Not sure who that would be these days!

  2. Strange as it is to say, I'd have to listen to the blink and say... Michigan State. Yeah, they're a rival, but the rivalry itself seems to have gotten less heated and more begrudgingly respectful as time has rolled along. That's beside the point anyway. What it really comes down to each and every year is the team's transformation over the course of the season, and how prepared they are in March. They've got a shot at the Final Four every single year, whether there are horses aboard or not... and nobody helms that ship better than Izzo. Used to hate that guy, when all his passion seemed overblown/Scorcesish. Now, after enough human interest pieces, and the kinship of the aging process, I really do enjoy the guy. MSU recruits well, but not so well that there are blue chippers in and out every year. In that regard, they can still seem like underdogs some seasons. I like their gritty style of play as well. So yeah, Michigan State.

  3. Good choices all. I would throw in Duke. I hated Duke as a kid growing up, but I just can't do it anymore. Coach K is getting older and may not have the long future ahead of him that Self and Miller do, but I don't see him retiring anytime soon either. They get talent and they are always a fun team to watch.
    It doesn't hurt that they have another premier team (UNC ) in their conference that I hate. They get to play UNC at least 2x per year, at least until the ACC expands to 30 teams. They also get to play all the Big East poached teams like Cuse and Pitt now, making for even more big games every year. Throw in one of the best game day experiences in college basketball, and they are a fans dream.

  4. Michigan State and Duke were the other ones that popped into my head, but I put them both behind Kansas because they have old coaches. When Coach K had his sabacktical (to coin a word) Duke went south pretty quick. And although MSU was good under Heathcoate, they really just had the one Magic season before Izzo came along. I'm not convinced that that MSU remains elite after Izzo is gone.

    UCLA didn't occur to me because I have a bias against Steve Alford, but objectively speaking I agree that would be a pretty solid choice. Obviously it is overall the greatest program in history by a long ways. It's so good that they ran off a coach who went to three straight final fours. Before that, they had a mediocre, corrupt coach who still managed to sneak in a national title.