College Basketball's preseason tournaments have always provided problems for coaches and athletic directors about whether or not these tournaments are worth keeping on the schedule. However, they are.
Even though these tournaments inevitably lead to an upset every season, they are great for the fans, allow coaches to see their young talent, and in the long run, have very little effect on the outcome of the season.
These tournaments should be looked at more as showcases than anything else. While everyone wants to win, coaches often times use these preseason tournaments like the Maui Invitational and the Preseason NIT to test young players. Coaches also use the preseason tournaments to try out different lineup combinations.
Every year, there is at least some turnover on a college basketball roster and the lineup will inevitably change. No one ever knows exactly how players will play when tested right away, so the preseason tournaments are great for testing players to see just exactly what they will bring to the court.
Preseason tournaments often feature top teams from across the country, which allows coaches to test their players against true competition. While many coaches and fans may worry that playing a Top 25-ranked team in a preseason tournament as opposed to a weaker opponent, who would be considered a guaranteed win, could lead to injury or bad losses, the risk is worth it for the players and the fans.
For the fans, these tournaments provide fun and exciting games to watch early on in the season. After a certain point, fans of top-tier teams begin to grow weary of 30-point blowout wins and want to see real competition. Tournament games give fans the opportunity to see their favorite players and teams take on teams that provide real competition, and an actual competitive game.
While the strength of preseason tournaments varies from year to year and tournament to tournament, the stronger the tournament, the more it helps the teams. Getting an opportunity to see non-traditional opponents is always fun for fans and players.
Anytime a team get to see opponents from outside their conference who they do not traditionally face off against, fans and players love the opportunity. Not only do these games allow players to get to go up against traditional powerhouses they might not normally get to play, it allows fans to see these teams.
More often than not, a team from the East Coast would not have many opponents from the Midwest or West Coast on their schedule. Fans who dedicate most their time to watching their favorite team do not usually get to see non-traditional opponents or their stars. These tournaments let fans get a preview of what to look for once March and the NCAA tournament roll around.
While a big upset in a preseason tournament may mean drastic movement on rankings or a big win may mean movement upwards in the long run these tournaments are not season altering. Teams have had big preseason tournaments and then immediately flopped once the in-conference season started up. The opposite has also happened. Teams that have flopped during these tournaments have gone on to long, strong runs throughout the regular season.
Preseason tournaments have become more than anything else a gauge of talent and ability. Fans should not freak out about whether or not their team loses during one of these tournaments. In the long run these tournaments will not make or break a team's season.
Big time college sports always need to make sure to cater to the fans at times. The preseason NCAA tournaments are one of those times. While some athletic directors and coaches do not love the tournaments they should continue to keep them on their schedule for the fans if nothing else.
The tournaments are great for fans, but also for coaches. They allow coaches to gauge their talent, while watching their starting lineup take shape. Benefits of the preseason tournaments outweigh the negative aspects of them greatly.