Free Tibet!... And abolish conference tournaments!

>> Monday

I'm hoping I can get Bjork to scream that at the end of her next concert. Because it's a message that needs to get out, and there's no one with more cred among college hoops fans than Bjork.

It's a rant I recite about five times a day this time of year, but it never loses its relevance. NCAA basketball conference tournaments are, collectively, the single biggest farce in American sports. (Unless maybe rodeo or drag racing or something has an even more corrupt playoff/ranking system, but I'm not really concerned with that hypothetical controversy.)

I know they're exciting and fun and all, but why isn't there more objection to conference tournaments? People bitch and moan all the time about the football bowl system being a messed-up, unfair money grab, but conference tournaments are at least twice--if not thrice--as unfair, unnecessary, and money-grabby.

Yes, I understand all the arguments as to why they're beneficial from a competetive standpoint: It gives every team a shot until their very last loss; it gives the selection committee a larger sample of neutral court games against quality teams on which to evaluate NCAA tourney contenders; it helps the committee see how teams are playing immediately leading up to the tournament; etcetera, etcetera, blah blah rubbish. And yes, I'm gonna be that much of a close-minded crank about this.

To me, the discussion ends at: Conference tournament games are inherently questionable from a competetive standpoint. I'm sorry--Did I say questionable? I mean totally, all-encompassingly bogus. Other than the situation when two shitty NFL or NBA teams might tank late-season games to improve draft picks--and even then you have individuals playing for paychecks--I can't think of any other contest in sports where the competetive interests of opponents can be so varied. And when that's the case, all other redeeming qualities might as well not exist.

When the St. Sucubus Crumbums, 11-17 (4-12) go up against the U. of Badass Awesomeos 23-6 (13-3), who are firmly entrenched on the 2 or 3 seed line, the problem is obvious. When Tubbs Weinerman, the St. Suck coach, writes "Just win, baby!" on the whiteboard before the pregame prayer, you know his players believe it. But when UB coach tells his guys to give it 110%, you know in the back of their minds, they're thinking, "Why do have to go break presses and chase long rebounds for 40 straight minutes when we already earned our way in the tourney? And our reward is to play another game on one day rest when the only game that matters is next week? Forget it."

Why should every team have the chance to make the tourney until that final loss? Why is this a good thing? It's a horrible thing. Northwestern and Iowa State had 16 conference games to prove they suck, and they did. They simply don't deserve the chance to get lucky for three or four days--against teams who are internally conflicted as to whether a three-day ass-busting is worth a seed or two--and make the tourney. When a team like that pulls it off, we should resent them for taking a deserving team's spot, not be happy for them.

And who cares that it's more neutral court games to evaluate teams? When the legitimacy of the competition is so questionable, the benefit of the neutral court sample is, in effect, negated. Or, what's even more fantastic, is when a team like, say, San Diego tonight gets to "earn" their way into to the tournament by winning three "neutral court" games on their home motherfucking court--robbing a team like Arizona or ASU or Syracuse (again?) out of a spot.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of seeing the same bullshit scenario play out a couple times a year. To you players on Cleveland State--I hope you lose tomorrow tonight. I hope you lose by a lot because I don't enjoy spoilers. They're not heartwarming stories or lovable underdogs. They're byproducts of a stupid system that was invented by jerks and sucks.

8 comments:

Anonymous,  5:55 AM  

good luck, didn't Bjork play point for the St. Sucubus Lady Crumbums?

Anonymous,  3:36 PM  

Get rid of the conference tournaments and put all the division 1 teams in one bracket. March, May and June Madness!!

Casey 9:25 PM  

Many of these conference tournaments existed long before finanacial rewards existed. So they continue out of tradition. I understand your frustration with the San Diego / Syracuse scenario. The Orange could have done something about that when they were losing at home to Rhode Island or playing the worst two minutes of basketball ever two weeks ago.

JMR 12:51 PM  

Everyone knows that many teams are more or less locked into their seeding and don't give it their all in the conference tournament - everyone except the media, who still report breathlessly on the "stunning" upsets (this morning, "Arkansas stuns Vols" is a headline on si.com)

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Anonymous,  2:35 PM  

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