Conference Tournament Results Weighed Too Heavily on Tourney Seedings
I’m not a fan of conference tournaments for several reasons. For starters, it cheapens the regular season. Think about the smaller conferences that don’t get at-large bids — Weber State for instance goes 15-1 in the Big Sky but loses in the conference tourney and goes home. Davidson was 18-2 in Southern Conference play, but Chattanooga gets hot in the tourney and steals the automatic bid and Davidson is NIT bound. Additionally, the made-for-TV tourneys allow teams like DePaul (that was 0-18 in Big East play) a chance to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Imagine 1-17 Indiana playing for the national championship because they stole the Big 10 tourney. It would be totally bunk. Furthermore, they play games in four straight days, something that isn’t done all season, and isn’t even done in the actual NCAA Tournament. And worst of all, conference tourney results had to strong a bearing on the seedings.
Let me start off with the SEC, which only got three teams into the tourney because experts said they had a “down year.” LSU for example dominated conference play going 13-3. They were a top 25 team considering they had only lost 6 games all year. Because they lost in the second round of the SEC tourney they go from a team ranked 20th (which translates to a 5 seed) to an 8 seed? Tennessee despite non-conference wins over Marquette and Georgetown drops to a 9 seed because of a finals loss to Mississippi State? What would they have been, a 6, had they won the conference tourney? Then you get Duke and Wake Forest, both with 11-5 records in the ACC, behind only North Carolina. The teams split in conference play, and Wake actually beat UNC, unlike Duke. Yet the Blue Devils win the ACC tourney while Wake drops only one effing game to Maryland, and now Duke’s a 2 and Wake’s a 4.
Then in my home conference, the Pac-10, you see the same thing. UCLA loses to USC in the conference tournament, and they go from being ranked 15th which translates to a 4 seed, to getting a six seed. Someone tell me why one game in a conference tournament should carry so much more weight than the 18 games most of these teams play in their conference regular season. It doesn’t make any sense except for the purpose of generating TV excitement.
The results of these conference tourneys are so erratic, that they become almost impossible to pick. You never know who’s showing up and actually trying to win the thing. That’s also why we must give props to The Driver who won the LBS conference tourney picks contest by correctly selecting two of the six conference tourney winners, Purdue and Louisville. Hopefully he’ll enjoy the No Fear swag that comes as the prize.