Ok, I’d say maybe some of these conference tournaments might have their moments.
The amusing world of blogging attribution: I do a post about Phil Sheridan’s article in the Inquirer last night. Yahoo’s The Dagger blog also picks that up, properly linking to (but not mentioning) Sheridan and the Inky, while quoting/crediting yours truly. Then Sports Illustrated‘s Luke Winn throws the item into his blog, but only with a “via Dagger.”
I’ve argued in favor of minor bowl games like the Alamo before, and after today’s hoops action I’d say much the same about the conference tournaments – they’re basically just an extension of the regular season, and when the match-up’s sexy or the game is good, what’s not to like about that? Of course, if you had a longer regular season and a system where the regular season champion got an automatic bid, the entire period of February 1 to March 15 would be pretty compelling.
But while Majerus effectively shot down the notion that it’s a good thing for a middling team like his to parlay short-term excellence into an automatic bid, the real purpose of these tournaments is to further seed and shake out all the teams who have a decent or near-certain shot of being in the field of 65. There’s little reason for St. Louis to participate – perhaps Majerus’s players really ought to be in class. Xavier can’t prove all that much by winning, but it would matter to Dayton.
The BCS conferences, however, are another story. Nine of the 11 Big Ten schools needed to play these games (imagine a small tear running down my cheek for the Northwestern Wildcats), while the tournament is how the gigantic Big East makes up for its unbalanced schedule. Syracuse and UConn only played each other once during the season. Now they’ve not only played another game, but an extra half a game on top of that, thanks to what is currently, at 1:05 am New York time, a 6-overtime fun-fest that Syracuse had never led at any point past regulation until the sixth OT. Seven players between the two schools have fouled out. It’s almost hockey-like. Of course the announcers have just jinxed it by mentioning the 7-OT longest game in NCAA history.
Update: It’s now 120-112 Orange, with 1:47 left. It would be kind of funny if the Huskies can catch up enough to turn the last 40 seconds into your classic eternal foul parade, but they already have to foul now, and Syracuse keeps making their shots. 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Update 2: Announcer just asked if Boeheim would be more proud of this team on this night than he was of his national championship team in New Orleans. Um…. no?
Update 3: Syracuse 127, UConn 117. Anticlimax! The Orange may have bought themselves a higher seed or better region. But perhaps the losing team is the real winner here – UConn can just rest up instead of playing two more games, while West Virginia might be a good bet tomorrow.
“I’m more proud of this team… than any team I ever coached,” Boeheim says. Ok, mea culpa.
btw, I had Syracuse +5 1/2.