Early or late, experience matters

Updated: November 19, 2004, 3:21 PM ET
By Jay Bilas | ESPN Insider
No game can even touch college basketball for excitement. It is the best game there is. Period. We get to watch players and teams mature over the course of a season, the players have to play offense and defense, they don't get committee meetings between each play, and there is the greatest diversity of playing styles of any sport.

Plus, every game matters, but not so much that a team can play its way out of the national championship picture by week two. Heck, college football gives you only a handful of teams that can win the national title. That is not the case in college basketball, where every team has a shot at the Tournament going into the final week of its season. Football can only dream of that scenario, while it is mired in its silly politics.

Two years ago, Syracuse started the season in Madison Square Garden in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Orange faced Memphis and featured a freshman phenom named Carmelo Anthony, whom experts agreed would be the best freshman in the country that year. Although Anthony was spectacular, Syracuse looked disjointed and sloppy, and Jim Boeheim's team spent most of the game watching Anthony perform instead of joining him.

Jay Bilas

College Basketball analyst