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Publisher's Summary

Thirty years after changing the sports book landscape with his mega-hit, A Season on the Brink, number one New York Times best-selling author John Feinstein returns to his first love - college basketball - with a fascinating and compelling journey through a landscape of unsung, unpublicized and often unknown heroes of Division-1 college hoops.

John Feinstein has already taken listeners into the inner circles of top college basketball programs in The Legends Club. This time, Feinstein pulls back the curtain on college basketball's lesser-known Cinderella stories - the smaller programs who no one expects to win, who have no chance of attracting the most coveted high school recruits, who rarely send their players on to the NBA.

Feinstein follows a handful of players, coaches, and schools who dream, not of winning the NCAA tournament but of making it past their first or second round games. Every once in a while, one of these coaches or players is plucked from obscurity to continue on to lead a major team or to play professionally, cementing their status in these fiercely passionate fan bases as a legend. These are the gifted players who aren't handled with kid gloves - they're hardworking, gritty teammates who practice and party with everyone else.

With his trademark humor and invaluable connections, John Feinstein reveals the big time programs you've never heard of, the bracket busters you didn't expect to cheer for, and the coaches who inspire them to take their teams to the next level.

©2020 John Feinstein (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Perfect. A wonderful book by a wonderful sports journalist." (Booklist, starred review)

"In this fascinating history, sportswriter Feinstein (A Season on the Brink) takes a look at lesser-known college basketball teams. In order to explore the 'real joys of college basketball,' Feinstein eschews the big money and future NBA stars of celebrated universities to focus on the sheer love of the game that characterizes smaller schools, covering the 2018 basketball season from November to the March playoffs.... It's all net for Feinstein’s passionate basketball history." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

"Rousing.... The author is a sympathetic observer, fan, reporter, and scholar all at once, and he delivers reams of information about how the game has evolved.... Feinstein writes with warmth and enthusiasm of a beloved sport in a book that will grab any fan." (Kirkus)

What listeners say about The Back Roads to March

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A love letter to college basketball

John Feinstein does such a good job with sports books. With this one he went back to the sport that made him famous, college basketball. He spent the 2018-19 season attending mid and low major games. Reports on a lot of games, but it’s really the stories of the players and the coaches from that level. Coaches on the rise and a few who were once top major coaches and were doing a second act on a smaller stage: Cliff Ellis, Jim Calhoun and Tubby Smith. Feinstein has strong opinions and let’s them be known, but most of all it is his absolute love for college basketball that shines through.

I did learn one rule that I didn’t know that explains the length of NCAA tournament games. Halftime of a regular season game is 15 minutes. Halftime of an NCAA tournament game is 20 minutes AND the 20 minutes doesn’t start until the interview with the coach leaving the floor ends. That way each coach has the same amount of time with their players at half. (In theory). I’d recommend this to any college basketball fan.

Feinstein reads it and does an excellent job with the narration.

1 person found this helpful

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In the minority

The premise was great. I was looking forward to hearing some compelling stories about coaches and players doing their things for the love of them game. For me, although the book focuses on the mid major programs (essentially all in the NE), it doesn’t go in depth into real stories. It’s basically a regurgitation of the season. I wanted to hear more than game summaries. To each his own…this one just wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.

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just okay

This title was my least favorite of Feinstein's basketball books. Focused exclusively on Northeast basketball, neglects all the low and mid majors on the west coast.

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A Must for any Mid Major Basketball fan.

Could listen to John talk about Mid Major basketball all day everyday. He walks you through life at the mid major level. His reference to the schools, gyms, coaches, players., and just all around life at the mid major level is second to none.

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Who knew?

This is a much more fascinating book than the subject matter suggests. But, then again, it's John Feinstein who can tell a story better than almost anyone. To make it even better, he reads the book himself! The book made me want to watch mid major basketball. I highly recommend The Back Roads to March!

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Great Fun

Written by a remarkable reporter who loves college basketball for others who love the game. The scores of the game are forgettable, the stories Feinstein tells will stay with me. Last season ended abruptly, this book made up for it. A little.

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Back Roads

Good read for any basketball fan. I would highly recommend it. There is college basketball that is played under the radar

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Another great book from John Feinstein

The 3rd book I have enjoyed of John Feinstein. His ability to tell a story and mix in the necessary background details was very easy to follow. I am a big college hoops fan and he provided more detail on the schools very few know about. Must read for a MCBB enthusiast.

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Another Winner from Feinstein

Great book. Just enough humor sprinkled here and there. Factoids you'll neither hear nor read anywhere else. Thank you for taking the time to write this book and share your memories with us.

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Love the little guys

I enjoy John Feinstein books and I can feel his love for the sport of college basketball in how he tells his stories. I love his historical depth. This book has a couple moments of slowness but overall was very good. I respect his writing but wish he would avoid the little political jabs from time to time. I read his books to escape the daily grind and sometimes feel like he doesn't understand that or appreciate that enough. Overall, I highly recommend this book.