NCAA: Winning Your Conference Tournament—Important or Not?

John LewisSenior Writer IMarch 14, 2008

As we hit March, the madness has already spread to some teams. 

Early exits in their conference tournaments have Gonzaga, UCONN, Louisville, Notre Dame, and others digging deep for a new game plan.

So that raises the question, is winning your conference tournament really that important? 

For some teams it's the momentum they need to go deep in the NCAA tourney.  But for others, it's just a warm up for the real deal next week.

Most coaches will tell you that winning the league tourney is always good. Players get hot, and teams can really come together. 

But does losing early in the conference postseason spell disaster during the big tournament? 

Just ask Rick Pitino if an early exit means that his Louisville Cardinals won't go far.  In his post-game news conference, Pitino mocked a reporter who asked if he was worried about heading into the NCAAs with two straight losses. 

"If you think it's bad to lose to Georgetown at Georgetown and a hard fought game to Pittsburgh in overtime, you don't follow basketball much," Pitino said.  He also added, "Go home and lose a lot of sleep over it.  Promise?"

Pitino was probably upset that his Cardinals were out-played and out-worked.  The upset was testament to how deep the Big East is.

The teams with the first round losses will just have to wait for their next assignment in the NCAA tournament.