We all know that big-time Division I schools get all the media attention and television exposure, but I want to introduce you to the exciting world of small college athletics and the world of Division III college basketball.
Have you ever seen the commercial during a college hoops game when the players are playing pickup basketball while wearing work clothes? Followed be the announcer saying that these players will go pro in something other than sports.
Well, that certainly rings true in Division III college basketball. These are great athletes who can shoot, rebound and defend just like the Division I folks. Granted, they are not going to get drafted by the NBA or WNBA, and only a handful may be lucky enough to secure a contract overseas. But that doesn’t bother them as they truly play for the love of the game. And someday, they will be able to tell their families that they once played college basketball.
It is always big news around New England when Boston College, BU, Providence, Holy Cross or UMass makes the big dance.
Did you know that a combined 25 local programs (men and women) reached the NCAA Division III tournament last season? Also, five schools reached the Sweet 16, and the Amherst women made the Final Four.
How good are some of these programs?
Check out the top 25 each week during the season, and the poll has its share of New England schools. By the way, there are four area schools in each of the preseason top 25 polls.
Many have wondered if there are great D-III programs similar to the North Carolinas, Dukes and Kentuckys of the world. Of course there are.
On the women’s side, you have Southern Maine, which has been the premiere program in New England for the better part of the last decade and a half. Also, Emmanuel College in Boston has owned the Great Northeast Athletic Conference since its inception. Add in Bowdoin, Brandeis and Norwich, and you have an impressive upper echelon.
The men have some strong programs, too — Brandeis, Amherst, Williams and UMass-Dartmouth, to name a few.
As the season moves along, I will introduce you to an exciting brand of basketball and the students and coaches who make it go. There are many talented student-athletes who have had record-setting careers, whether it's 2,000 points or 1,500 rebounds. There are coaches at this level who have over 400 wins and have been to the Final Four.
These are some of the reasons you need to learn more and experience this exciting sport. These are the reasons you need to go to a game. Besides, it’s cheap, and parking is usually free.
Good luck finding that at a professional or Division I game.