Arguably the most exciting week in sports is finally here. Championship Week!! College basketball conference tournaments kick off and it is a time where a team’s hopes and dreams either come true or they end up feeling like they got stabbed in the heart a million times but they still live and suffer. It’s glorious! The buzzer beaters. The court stormings. The celebrations. The tears, good and bad. Teams feeling on top of the world without even realizing that in a week they will be getting curb stomped by Duke or Kentucky. Let the little man have his 15 minutes.
That being said, IT IS THE MOST OVERHYPED, UNNECESSARY EVENT IN ALL OF SPORTS!!! I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. Don’t like it? Fight me.
Listen, I love all things college basketball. I’ve attended a conference tournament each of the last 4 years (2 Power Five, 2 Mid-Major). The atmosphere is electric. It’s an amazing experience, and if you’re a basketball fan I strongly suggest you attend one. My problem is the reason for the these tourneys. The winner gets an automatic bid into the big dance. I get it, it’s what makes it so dramatic.
When it comes to the selection committee handing out at-large bids, they claim that a win in December holds the same weight as a win in February. You can’t hold that standard and then proceed to get an automatic bid to a team who gets hot for 3-4 games. My suggestion: Give the automatic bid to the conference champion of the regular season. Reward a team for their full body of work, not because they win a tournament between teams they’ve already played twice.
Imagine if UNC Greensboro pulls off the upset over Wofford tonight. Wofford SHOULD be in no problem. The negative result is UNC-G is taking a spot they don’t deserve from a team who does deserve it. This already happened, to a lesser extent in the Summit League. South Dakota State is going to miss the tournament because they were upset by Western Illinois. Now, I don’t think SDSU is one of the 68 best teams, so it’s hard to say a spot was taken from a “deserving” one. The issue now is a team that was the best team in the conference all season doesn’t get to play in the post season because of result of one game over the course of an entire season.
And while we’re on the big dance. The first round starts with 64 teams. The “First Four” are play in games. That simple.