I know that the NCAA tournament has become the coming-out party for Nike’s ventures into next year’s uniforms. It started (unless someone knows of something earlier) with the System of Dress that they introduced for teams like North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse and Florida. Those looks, debuted in the tournament a few years ago, are now the semi-norm for Nike-contracted schools. Here are some other examples: West Virginia, Oregon (who have really gone overboard, surprise surprise), Arizona, Kentucky, more Syracuse, and even Oakland (shout out for Ryan P).
So what is this year’s new, big thing? A few weeks ago I brought up Duke’s uniforms with the background image of the Duke gothic on their uniforms. I guess technically they were debuted with the US Olympic team in the ’08 Olympics but Duke debuted that kind of a thing this season (though really, I guess Florida’s scales, as linked above, can count as the first attempt at this kind of thing).
That is the kind of thing we’re going to see in this year’s tournament, and if the past holds true, in next year’s regular season. Thanks to Paul Lukas over at Uni Watch we can see who will be sporting new looks for this tournament. Of course, Duke will be rocking the look already detailed before. Here are the others, at least the ones that we know so far:
UCONN will also be wearing new unis but there is no picture yet.
So the preliminary review is: AWFUL. At least with Duke and Michigan State the designs are based on something related to the school. In Duke’s case it’s gothic. With State it’s clearly the sword of the Spartan mascot. But what is going on with the rest? GO ZAGS??? And Memphis, I don’t even know where to begin. Oregon we knew would probably be the weirdest but what’s up with the camo on the side and not even in the school’s colors? (Though it does look like they’ve been wearing something similar all year)
This is definitely a bad trend that I hope doesn’t extend into next year, though I’m sure it will with an even larger group of schools signing on. And my guess is that there will be two or three more schools who are actually in the tournament (unlike Oregon who is 8-22 this year!) who end up with some kind of new look.