In the most important and inescapable ways, the gentlemen gunning three-pointers and doing their utmost not to fuck up are obviously and inescapably kids. This is most glaringly true during the pre-tournament week given over to conference championships, when the future maybe-professionals of the big conferences cede the airwaves to the future super-competitive-rec-league-guys of Every Other Conference, with even commuter-school conferences like the NEC and sprawling shitshows like the Sun Belt Conference (which includes both the University of Denver and Florida International) getting prime-time television turns. This can and does, as you might expect, lead to some bad basketball—missed jumpers and assignments both, and unwise, too-determined, terrified-cum-optimistic teenage decision-making. But because every game means so much—and because even a crappy game between two balling-out-of-control teams can still be a blast to watch in the final five minutes—every game, even and maybe especially the very bad, has a ragged grace and urgent emotion to it.
As easy as it is to become immersed in the Big East Tournament this week, it’s clearly not the only game in town. In Vice, David Roth revisits the endearing earnestness of the less glamorous conference tournaments, and explores their power to inspire reverent wonderment in the face of ostensibly shitty basketball.