Does it pay to be in a brutal conference?
Many people say that towards the end of every college basketball season, teams who already know that they are going to the Big Dance get great pre-NCAA tourney warm-ups by fighting amongst themselves for their respective conference tournament titles. Teams play each other once again, get banged up, run themselves ragged, then allegedly waltz into the tournament, get bumped to the NIT (the JV to the Varsity’s NCAA Tournament), or get their plane tickets home to watch the rest of the season from the couch……wait a second…..waltz into the NCAA tournament? You must be joking. Has anyone ever heard of the Big East and the ACC? Do people know they exist? These are arguably…wait, they ARE the toughest, let alone most competitive two conferences in all of college basketball. Each conference goes at least six or seven teams deep in the number of teams who could possibly get an at-large big to the Big Dance. I mean, just take 2008-2009 for example. In the ACC, Florida State, Maryland, UVA, and NC State have all won games against Duke, North Carolina, or Wake Forest. Yet, their records indicate that they should lose by 40 points. At home or on the road, any team can honestly beat any team at one time. Look at the Big East. Louisville loses to UConn, then beats Georgetown by 30 points. Same situation for all of those teams. Each conference has teams like Providence, Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, and Notre Dame that all are talented teams but play in an absolutely grueling conference against the nation’s elite. If they played in any other conference, including the Pac-10 which is a non-competitive joke, they would win the regular season outright. Now, you might say that if they were elite, then they would win these games against other dominant college programs. This may be true, but what about when it comes to their conference tournaments? A team like UConn, North Carolina, Duke, or Pittsburgh who is already going dancin’ must now win 3,4, or 5 more games to claim a tournament championship…..before the ONLY MEANINGFUL tournament starts! They get taken to the wire by teams with false hope of dancin, players get hurt, teams are exhausted, and for what? To say that you’re an elite team? WHO CARES, YOU’VE ALREADY PROVEN IT! That’s what the NCAA tournament is there for: to take those elite teams and determine which one is the best. What do you get in the meantime if you don’t win your conference tournament? A few brutal, hard-nosed games against teams playing for nothing or for little hope, teams with nothing to lose, and an even tougher journey going into the NCAA tournament with trying to have a team 100% healthy, composed, and ready to run at full strength. To me, the NCAA has missed out on this subject. Based on how the regular season goes, give the regular season champs an automatic bid, then go through the same process to pick the remaining tournament teams based on record. Why does it make sense for a mid-major with a losing regular season record to win their conference tournament, get a big in the Big Dance, then lose in the opening round by 30 or 40 points? It does no good for the game, and those teams usually just get embarrassed. And for all those mid-majors out there, a team like Georgia in 2008, going 4-12 in conference play, conference tourneys can steal a bid for your conference. Why even have a conference tourney? To give false hope and to skew the NCAA tourney performance of the nation’s elite? It just doesn’t benefit anyone….except for a lonely mid-major or bogus major conference squad that gets less than a Cinderella’s chance of actually making a name for themselves in the NCAA tournament. Keep dreamin NCAA….what a waste of time