Tuesday, March 6, 2012

College basketball; why I hate the conference tournaments

I believe the only conference which doesn’t have a tournament to conclude its season is the Ivy League. Having a tournament is fine but that the automatic bids to the NCAA tournament go to the tournament rather than regular season champion is an assault on reason. 

Of course for teams in the bigger conferences it doesn’t make any difference.  But for the so called mid-majors this is a big deal, and something of an outrage.  Every year teams win their conferences by compiling an excellent record over months only to lose out on an NCAA bid because they lose a game in a conference tournament.  How does winning 3 or 4 games in a row over as many days constitute a better selection process than who won the most games over a couple of months?  Why should the ultimate reward for the participants go to the former rather than latter team?

Thus, the just completed Sun Belt tournament was won by Western Kentucky who will now get to participate in March Madness.  In conference play the Hilltoppers won 7 and lost 9.  The team that won the conference was Middle Tennessee with a record of 14 and 2.  But they had a bad night and lost in the conference tournament so they go home.  How does that make sense?

So why conference tournaments, and why use them to select the automatic bid?  Some part perhaps is attributable to keeping hope alive, and giving everyone a chance.  But surely the main reason must be money.  A conference tournament produces ticket sales and television coverage.  It’s unlikely that the television money would be there if the tournament didn’t determine the bid to the NCAA tournament.  It’s almost enough to make you hate capitalism.

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