Hoops U is a candid look at two elite NCAA Division 1 basketball programs–and how they do what they do. The documentary follows Mike Brey’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish and star guard Jerian Grant, detailing the revival of a quality basketball program forced to thrive in the long shadow of Notre Dame football. And it follows the University of Maryland, led by coach Mark Turgeon. Hoops U delivers a picture of what it’s like for these student athletes–in the classroom (yes, they go), on the court and in the locker room.
For all the daggers thrown at the NCAA by critics who decry the unfairness of a system that may not compensate players adequately, this close-up look at the passion and commitment of the players and coaches in trying to win their conference tournaments and prepare for March Madness is a compelling antidote. You can lament the NCAA double standards, while still admiring the work ethic and team effort it takes to succeed on this very big stage. You don’t come out of it thinking anyone is being taken advantage of–everybody is all in. Hoops U airs on Wednesday, March 18, 9pm on Showtime.