It's a known fact that most sports reporters don't pay attention to college basketball season until approximately February. The Super Bowl and college bowl games typically have to finish before most newspapers will even consider running something about how Connecticut looks strong in the preseason or the fact that Ohio State's Jared Sullinger is a dominant force in the paint.
That's good for some schools. It hides their weaknesses. If you have some kinks to work out early in the season don't worry about it, because no one is going to know.
But if you don't pay attention in February and openly admit that you didn't watch a game until March, then don't give in to the urge to write a hack column like Dan McNeil did today for The Tribune.
McNeil's column entitled, "Local college basketball has become irrelevant," is the senseless journalism that proves a well-informed blog is better than a idiot columnist almost every day of the week.
He goes after Northwestern and DePaul, (I think) because well they play in power conferences and are easy targets. The predictable "replace Bill Carmody," tone of the Northwestern section shows the work of someone that couldn't be bothered to actually take 10 minutes to read the sides of the argument, or someone that just decided the ability to spout ignorance was easier than being informed.
For instance, McNeil writes:
Tough admissions standards is the name of the broken record that's playing whenever the Cats roundball impotence is discussed. That's weird. Since 1995, Pat Fitzgerald is the third consecutive football coach there to take Northwestern bowling.
You can find my response to that argument here, but suffice it to say the reasoning is terrible.
When he's done with Northwestern he goes on to rip DePaul. And while it might be true that the Blue Demons were irrelevant on the national stage this season, they almost pulled a number of big upsets during the regular season. Of course you wouldn't know that if you didn't watch a single DePaul game this season. But even still, this season didn't really matter anyways, it was Oliver Purnell's first. It was designed to be a step towards preparing for the future. A future in which I believe the Blue Demons will be a big player in the Big East.
If you need "local juice" to get you through the NCAA Tournament, with it's Kemba Walkers (who is ignored entirely), Jimmer Fredettes, Shaka Smarts, Butlers and VCUs, then you shouldn't be watching anyways. College basketball is a game to be loved for the simple heros it creates. When it's obvious you took three minutes to write your column you're doing everyone a disservice. Save the sever space for something like the millionth column on how Derrick Rose deserves to win the MVP.
P.S. If you want to read something interesting about college basketball read this by Pete Thamel. If you want to read something inspiring by a columnist actually worth reading, check out this by Joe Posnanski.