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College Basketball Conference Tournaments Are Perfect The Way They Are

conference tournament

This weekend, the University at Albany played host to one of the first great moments of this year’s NCAA basketball conference championship week when Albany’s Mike Black hit a game winning layup to upset the America East’s top seeded Stony Brook Seawolves. The Great Danes advanced to Saturday’s championship game, the fans stormed the court, and it was a truly amazing moment.

Now people want to make sure moments like it can no longer happen.

Sports writers are now bemoaning the cruelty and ridiculousness of the current conference tournament system, in which the winner of each conference tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

They argue that the framework, as it stands, leaves out teams that are better equipped to compete for wins in the NCAA Tournament while including teams that are less deserving, while pleading that the NCAA change the system to either give automatic bids to the regular season champions or make conference tournament winners jump through additional hoops to qualify.

So, to recap, people want to spoon feed bids to the NCAA Tournament, which is a single elimination tournament, to teams that can’t win their conference tournaments, all single elimination tournaments, against lesser competition.

To say that such an argument is laughable would be an insult to other laughable things.

Try to read this paragraph from CBS’ Jeff Goodman with a straight face, if you will:

The system has failed poor Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook’s star. He has led the Seawolves to three consecutive regular-season titles (he was hurt and didn’t play in 2010-11) and won’t ever be able to say he played in the NCAA tournament. He has helped his program flat-out dominate the league this past season, winning the America East by three games over Vermont and Boston University. Now Brenton will watch the Catamounts play a 9-7 Albany team in the championship contest on Saturday morning with an NCAA berth on the line.

What Goodman fails to mention while sobbing over poor Tommy Brenton’s injustice at the hands of the SYSTEM is that, in his three America East tournament losses, Brenton scored seven, six, and four points. Maybe people should worry less about the system and more about the fact that Stony Brook’s star player, and this year’s America East player of the year, has been nonexistent in his team’s biggest games each season.

Now, with Brenton assuming a leadership role on Stony Brook’s squad, what does it say about Stony Brook’s ability to win NCAA Tournament games if he can’t even lead them past a good – not great – Albany team who hadn’t beat them in over two calendar years?

With so many things in the NCAA that need changing, the setup of basketball’s conference tournaments should not even be on anyone’s radar. Yet, thanks in part to UAlbany, here we are.

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