Commentary

Uni Watch: New line a step up

Adidas goes with a more conservative look for this season's March Madness.

Updated: March 6, 2014, 2:50 PM ET
By Paul Lukas | ESPN.com

If you just heard a huge sigh of relief in the background, it's probably coming from college basketball fans who just saw the new line of March Madness uniforms released Thursday by adidas.

Uni Watch
It's not that all of these uniforms are good (we'll get to the specifics in a second), but they're definitely better than what adidas came up with last year. Many fans called those designs "Zubaz-inspired," referring to the old zebra-patterned sportswear line, but here at Uni Watch HQ we called them the Fruit Stripe uniforms, because they looked like Fruit Stripe gum.

Compared to the Fruit Stripe set, the new adidas designs, which schools will start wearing in their conference tournaments, are fairly conventional. You can get a feel for them here (all photos courtesy of adidas; if you'd rather see the photos in a gallery format, click here):

Now let's take a closer look at some of the details:

• Like last year, some of the schools will be wearing sleeves (Baylor, UCLA, Cincinnati and Louisville), while others will stick with the more traditional tank tops (Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Wisconsin).

• Instead of the Fruit Stripe pattern, this year's designs feature little dot-dash patterns on the shorts and, for the tank top designs, the shoulders. Let's call it the Morse code design (click to enlarge):

Wisc_Home

The Morse code pattern is completely unnecessary, of course -- it's just a branding gimmick to make all the schools look as if they're part of Team adidas. Still, the pattern doesn't look terrible -- except when it appears in white on a colored background, at which point the Morse code design becomes the dandruff design:

1911_D3_PRDetailShots_WisconsinUpdated_V1

• In a move that's sure to generate a lot of chatter, the Baylor set has "Sic'em Bears" on the chest, and the road design has been rendered in army green as a nod to the school's strong military history (click to enlarge):

Baylor_Home

Baylor_Away

• Interesting move for the Indiana home uni, which is cream-colored -- a reference to the Hoosiers' "crimson and cream" nickname (click to enlarge):

Ind_Home

• What's even sillier than a cardinal gritting its teeth? A black cardinal gritting its teeth, as seen on the Louisville shorts:

1911_D3_PRDetailShots_LousivilleUpdated_V12

Amid all the hype, it's worth remembering that there's no need to have special uniforms for March Madness. Why not just keep wearing the uniforms that got you into the tournament? But that ship has long since sailed, so we'll likely be seeing more March Madness uniforms in the days and weeks to come -- stay tuned.

Paul Lukas is starting to think March Madness should be renamed Merch Madness. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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