Conference basketball tournaments and March Madness
Before March Madness begins, the end of the regular college basketball season will culminate with a number of conference tournaments, which the NCAA uses to award 31 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The only exception being the Ivy League, which does not hold a conference tournament.
But how do the conference winners factor into the NCAA Tournament? It depends.
Teams can do one of two things. They can either win their conference tournament as expected or perform better than expected. With that, handicappers need to assess whether a certain team still holds up or whether they will be a different team come tournament time.
To help answer those questions, we have established few things for college basketball handicappers to ask about conference tournament winners and losers, to help then judge where they stand heading into March Madness.
First we’ll tackle the “overachievers” — the surprise teams.
Before handicappers get too excited about these teams, they need to really take a look at who they actually beat. If a team went deep in the tournament while only beating teams they were already expected to beat, then they haven’t really proven anything.
Also how did they win? Did they win by means that are hard to replicate again, like a strong outing from an unsuspecting play, or maybe even from a star player. Then they might not be built for a strong tournament run. In other words, they may not be able to carry over that momentum to the NCAA Tournament.
Lastly, what do they left? It takes a lot out of an overachieving team to win their conference tournament, and they may not be able to keep up after leaving it all on the court during conference tournament play.
Next there are the underachievers. Those teams that lost or were upset earlier than expected in their conference tournament. But maybe winning was not a big motivator, as their seeding in the NCAA Tournament was already secured, and saving players for the big show resulted in putting out less than a full effort in their conference tournament.
A big part of how an underachiever will perform in the NCAA Tournament, is their coach. While some coaches regularly approach the conference tournament like there is nothing more important, others look at it as more than an annoyance.
Some coaches are strong in the tournament, while others just can’t seem to translate strong season performances into strong tournament runs. Handicappers need to look at a coach’s past, and it will tell a lot about whether this year’s performance is a big deal or not.
Finally, why did an underachiever lose in the first place? Losing to a to another top level contender is one thing, but a bottom feeder can be demoralizing.
If a team played a very good game and still lost then it could be a real concern, but then again maybe they just didn’t care and didn’t try as a result.