Saturday, March 14, 2009

Does the Bubble Even Exist This Year?

I have isolated something that is bothering me about Championship Week this year: The major-conference conference-tournament system is totally flawed.

The teams that are already NCAA Tournament locks have little incentive to win, to want to play 3 or 4 games in 3 or 4 days or to truly play with any sense of urgency at all. (Obviously, there are exceptions, but far more are following this rule this year than are exceptions to it.)

Teams that are on the Bubble do care. Teams that are out of the Tournament entirely do care. That's why you see Baylor beating Kansas. Or Maryland beating Wake. Or Mississippi State beating LSU. Or Ohio State thumping Michigan State.

And, yet, the system gives away NCAA Tournament bids to the conference-tourney champs -- and seems to overvalue conference-tourney wins -- even though those wins may be iffy.

If Wake or Kansas or LSU or Xavier or Michigan State don't really seem to give a shit, does Maryland or Baylor or Mississippi State or Temple or Ohio State beating them really prove those winners are Tournament-worthy? Maybe it does, but maybe we shouldn't overrate the wins.

I'm just saying: We place this out-sized value on conference tournaments (and even individual wins in conference tournaments), when many of the leading participants -- at least the ones that care more about the national title than a provincial one -- have no reason to care.

We'll see if UNC joins the group, in a battle with Florida State.

By the way, if every Bubble spot is accounted for by these shady conference-tournament results -- does the Bubble even exist this year? I would argue it doesn't.

-- D.S.


cmr said...

I keep hearing the committee stresses "body of work" when picking teams, so yeah, there isn't much incentive for the teams whose "body of work" will get them in no matter what they do in their conference tournament.

If "body of work" is so important to the committee, then the major and mid-major conferences should stress it too. Go back to giving auto bids to the regular season conference champs and use the tourneys as showcases for the bubble teams to play their way in or out.

We would get Steph Curry back in the dance.

Dodger Dogg said...

Considering that the article was written before North Carolina lost to Florida State, Dan's opinion seems correct. Another example--check out the Pac-10 tournament. Washington, AZ State, UCLA are NCAA locks. All lost in the tournament.