I was watching some rebroadcast of the 1990 UConn-Duke game from the Regional finals, which was coincidentally the first year I really started watching the NCAA tournament at the urging of my then-roommate. We picked teams (alternating choices, and giving the other person the first-round opponent, meaning each of us only picked 16 teams), and I picked UConn, I think because they had sent me an application to grad school once upon a time. Well, in the semifinal game against Clemson that preceded this one, UConn was down one with a second to go when Scott Burrell launched a full court pass to Tate George, who caught it on the opposite baseline, spun, and buried a jumper to win the game. That moment made me an NCAA Tournament fan.
The UConn-Duke game was similarly thrilling, going to overtime before being decided on Christian Laettner's buzzer-beater (his less famous one). What I noticed in watching this game over again was that both teams ran a very simple offense: get the ball to Laettner/Bobby Hurley/Tate George.
Compare that to the Ohio State-Florida game Monday night, which could have been an NBA game for the style of play. Even though OSU featured an NBA-caliber center, they spread the ball around a lot. Florida has five guys who can all score. Both teams ran a balanced offense that allowed them to score inside or out, and involved everyone. Has the game changed that much from 17 years ago? I think so, considering that the Duke team that beat UConn in a thriller ran into UNLV in the finals and lost to what was unquestionably the most talented roster in college basketball at the time. That kind of disparity doesn't really exist any more at the top tiers, not because of talent fleeing to the NBA, but because there is (I think) so much more talent at the college level. A school like Florida wasn't considered elite until their run last year; they will be now, because they'll continue to attract new talent. The explosion of media attention beyond just sports nuts has increased the pool of talented players, despite the most talented ones jumping to the pros as soon as they're allowed.
Note that all of this hasn't made the college game more interesting to watch, but then, I have trouble focusing through an entire NBA game as well.
And for your amusement, a mis-captioned ESPN.com photo (from DJ Gallo's Masters Preview, now corrected).