Monday, March 06, 2006

Conference tourneys need to go

For those of you who spent most of the weekend curled up on the couch watching some college basketball between two schools you never knew existed, good for you — you’ve successfully gotten into the spirit of Championship Week.

We have too.

And for those of you who only think basketball is played in big conferences (Pac-10, Big East, Sec, etc.), well, you’re horribly wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many conference tournaments being played in the armpits of the U.S. – like Tennessee. (Honestly, we really don’t have anything against the state of Tennessee. Really.). According to ESPN, there are 30 — count ‘em, 30 — conference tournaments that will take place in the next week (or that have already finished this past weekend). That’s a lot of conferences. A lot of teams. And a lot of brackets.

For those readers under 21, we have found a new alternative to booze for you. (Like we already said, we’re always looking out for the little, or in this case, the younger guy): Just try to figure out all of the seeds of the teams in these smaller conference tournaments and keep the brackets organized in your mind. We guarantee at least a buzz.

With so many conferences (that all sound similar — like the SWAC, MAAC and MEAC) it’s nearly impossible to keep them all straight. But that’s part of the fun. C’mon we already have teams dancing. Belmont (that’s your cue to say, “what the fuck is Belmont?”) is representing the Atlantic Sun, Murray State will be playing in the Big Dance from the Ohio Valley Conference (we didn’t know Ohio had a valley either), and Winthrop got its ticket punched from the Big South conference. What’s big about the Big South? Certainly not the teams. (By the way, we were rooting against Winthrop in the title game because they were playing the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and we badly wanted a definition on “Chanticleer.” If you know, drop off a comment).

So we’re about half way through this column and all we’ve done so far is figure out a new way to get a hammered and talk about some small schools that you would never consider attending. (Though we did think about applying to UT-Chattanooga — you know, for kicks — but then realized it was in Tennessee. We swear, nothing against Tennessee.).

No point made yet, no problem. That’s what the rest of this column is for.

Here we go. If you can’t handle a strong argument sober, grab a Captain ‘n’ Coke or just use our new method of getting fucked up, mentioned above.

So the Ivy League — the conference of the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton…you know, the indoor kids — has it all right. Penn was the first team technically in the Big Dance because they won the Ivy League by having the best conference record during the regular season. And that’s the way every league should do it. Get rid of these conference tourneys. They’re fun, but they’re not fair and we love sports justice. Those brainiac kids always seem to get it right.

Here’s a good example. In many of these smaller leagues (like the SWAC, MAAC and MEAC to name three of many) the winner of the conference tournament is the only team that earns the right to have a team like Duke or UConn laugh at them (and beat them by 178 points).

So what does having the best league record in the regular season mean then? Well, it gives that team the top-seed in the conference tournament and thus the best theoretical chance to get the shit knocked out of them by the Dukes of the world.

But this doesn’t always go as planned. It rarely does. Davidson, which will be dancing via winning the Southern Conference tournament this past Sunday, was shafted last year. The Wildcats went a perfect 16-0 last season in the SoCon (drop that “n” and you have yourself a cool name!), earned the top seed, but was upset in the semifinals. Did they get the at-large bid to the Big Dance? Of course not. Davidson’s spot likely went to a 10+-loss team from a major conference and they were relegated to the NIT.

The whole conference tournament thing must be about money. It always is. And really it’s the only logical reason we can think they exist. Why does a team that won the regular season have to prove themselves for a second time and re-win the conference? For these small conferences that only get one team in the NCAA tournament, it gives a chance for many teams to get that automatic bid. But hey, if they weren’t good in the regular season, why give them a second chance?

But not much we can do about it now. So watch these games because they’re fun, after all. Pick a team and root hard. But when they make the Dance, don’t pick them in your tourney pool. Unless you hate money.

This column was published in the University of Washington's The Daily.

In other news: The Oakland Raiders have cut QB Kerry Collins and plan to sign Norv Turner to play quarterback.

1 comment:

pwags said...

i'm sorry to say that i think i have an answer for your "what is a chanticleer?" question.

a side note for you -- you mentioned davidson as an example in your post, and i'm class of 1992... davidson was a founding member of the southern conference, then went independent in the 80s, then before they could get back into the southern conference (where they wanted to go again) spent two purgatorial years in the big south conference in the early 90s, and had to play coastal carolina a few times as a result.

as far as i can tell (based on coastal's mascot, logo, etc.), a chanticleer is another name for the mascot of the big university in the same state: a gamecock. a fighting rooster. south carolina low country culture at its best!