With Nike muting college basketball's color palette by introducing gray alternate jerseys for dozens of prominent programs this season, Adidas has responded by going in the exact opposite direction.
The shoe-apparel giant announced Tuesday that Cincinnati, Louisville and Baylor will don ultra-light new tiger-striped jerseys during their respective conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. The garish colors and camouflage patterns are a break with tradition for all three schools, yet there are obvious advantages to adopting a new look for March despite the inevitable angry letters from alumni that will surely pile up.
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First, it's a money-making opportunity since alternate jerseys introduce a new product to sell at campus shops or sporting good stores. Secondly, it can only aid recruiting to send the message to prospects that they'll always be outfitted in the freshest, most up-to-date gear if they choose your school.
While some of the new Adidas gear is cringeworthy — ahem, Baylor — not all of it is too bad. Here's a few additional pictures and my letter grades for each of the schools' new looks:
Baylor (Grade: D): Baylor's color scheme and traditional jerseys were not a favorite of mine to begin with, but the new look for March certainly isn't an improvement. The flashy lime green jerseys require sun glasses to stare at and the black and green ones simply are not aesthetically pleasing. Considering Baylor has one of the nation's most talented crop of big men and could receive as high as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Bears are capable of a deep run. Does the school really want perhaps its most Final Four-capable team in 52 years to be wearing glow-in-the-dark tiger stripes? Apparently so.
Cincinnati (Grade B-plus): Give Adidas credit for two aspects of Cincinnati's new March look: 1. It's logical. Whereas having the Baylor Bears and Louisville Cardinals don tiger stripes is bizarre, it's a good fit for the Bearcats. 2. The jerseys don't stray far from Cincinnati's traditional black, red and white color scheme. While the black and red road look is still a bit over-the-top, the more understated home whites are actually a great look. "It's a compliment to the growth of our program that Cincinnati gets to take part in this unveiling," coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. "The postseason uniforms are something the players are really going to enjoy."
Louisville (Grade: Inc): It's tough to fully grade Louisville's new look since Adidas only released the single picture of the gray jersey on Tuesday, but I can't say I like what I see so far. The gray jersey trend is way overdone in college basketball these days and tiger striped jerseys simply make no sense for the Cardinals. If players, prospects and fans like these new jerseys, then perhaps it was a good decision by Louisville to adopt them. Still, a program as tradition-rich as the Cardinals might have been better off turning these down.
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