EYE 2 EYE: College vs. professional basketball


Brent Gelick / Talon

Alex Gaspar and Adam Helfstein

Professional basketball takes the cake

By: Alex Gaspar

Watching professional basketball in the NBA reigns far superior to watching college basketball. Professionals, quite frankly, are professionals for a reason. They have mastered the art of basketball, and compete at the highest level imaginable against other athletes who have also mastered the sport. This just simply isn’t the case at the collegiate level. 

In the collegiate level there is no guarantee that the competition will be at a level playing field. Oftentimes colleges at the top of the Division I level will schedule games against lower tier and unknown Division I teams to secure easy wins to bolster their resume. For example, Gonzaga, who is ranked as the number one team in the nation, bolsters blowout wins against teams such as North Alabama, Merrimack and Tarleton State, to name a few.

However, in the NBA the playing field is far more balanced and even the worst teams can beat the best teams on any given night. Take the Detroit Pistons, for example, as the NBA team in this season with the worst record throughout the entire league — a pitiful 12 wins and 45 losses. However, they do still have 12 wins while playing at the hardest level. Many college teams have records that include just a handful of wins, which include wins that were against teams that are perhaps far worse than them. 

While it is true that not all college teams have unfair advantages against other teams throughout all of their games, this possibility limits how enjoyable a college basketball season can be in relation to an NBA season. Throughout an NBA season, teams compete at the highest level throughout every single game of the year, not just the games where there actually is an even playing field. 

Additionally, NBA basketball is far smoother and easier to watch than collegiate basketball. Only about 1.2 percent of college basketball players make it to the NBA, so naturally the NBA provides a more skillful and smooth experience as a spectator. NBA games are longer than college basketball games by 8 minutes, also adding to the overall enjoyment of the showcase of talent. 

Overall, professional basketball in the NBA is a far better experience than college basketball. From the tippity-top level of talent in the sport to the competitive, evenly matched nature of each and every game, there’s no doubt that college basketball is lagging behind professional basketball.

There’s nothing better than college basketball

By: Adam Helfstein

The NBA is the highest level of basketball in the world. The sheer amount of talent in the league, from top to bottom, is in my opinion unrivaled by any other professional sports league. None of that is being argued — NBA players are better than college players, that’s a simple fact. What is being argued, however, is that from a fan’s perspective, college basketball is far more entertaining and compelling than the NBA.

Every game matters. If you lose a game all the way at the beginning of the season in November, it’s still going to get talked about in March when it comes to standings, rankings, and a team’s tournament resume. There are simply very few teams in the country that can afford a one-off loss. One game can be the difference between making the NCAA tournament and missing it. Every game feels like a playoff game. 

On the flip side, many NBA games are, frankly, meaningless. There are many games where winning or losing won’t affect the long-term outcomes of a team. Individual games simply don’t mean as much and that’s reflected in the demeanors of the fans and the players. There are 82 games in an NBA season, as compared to 30 in a college season. The players in college simply play harder than NBA players. There’s no quantifiable stat that reflects this, but it’s incredibly evident once you watch a big college game vs. an NBA game. The players in the NBA aren’t fighting to make it to the next level — they’re already there. College games have a sense of desperation, grit, and toughness that the NBA lacks. 

The fan atmospheres in college basketball are unparalleled by any other sport. It’s the biggest home court advantage in any sport. The electric atmospheres and bustling student sections are a huge part of what makes college basketball so entertaining to watch and fun to attend. The fan bases are diehards for their team and show up in spades. Duke University, for example, has sold out every home game since 1990 — over 30 years. Through thick and thin, college fan bases support their teams. The atmosphere it creates is something unlike any other.

Finally, college teams have more of an identity than NBA teams. Tony Bennett’s teams at Virginia always pride themselves on the defensive side of the floor. Mark Few’s Gonzaga teams always play at a fast pace. Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse teams always play that daunting 2-3 zone. Even with ever changing rosters due to graduating, the NBA draft, and the new addition of the transfer portal, these identities largely stay constant. This is something you simply don’t see as much in the NBA, whereas it’s something that gives college basketball so much flavor and intrigue. The dichotomy of styles that you can find in college basketball, especially when they get matched up with each other, are part of what makes the sport so fun.


– Professional basketball players are better than college basketball players

– Both college and professional basketball is entertaining