Winning Your Conference Tournament Does Not Justifiy an Automatic Bid

Chris MurphyAnalyst IMarch 15, 2010

Put this into the list of ridiculous rules which make no sense to go along with the continuation rule in the NBA, homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the MLB All-Star game, and the idea to not use replay in some sports.

As is the case with replay, however, the NCAA needs to wake up with this rule.

Why should four or five games mean an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament? Especially if a team is in an awful conference that only deserves one automatic bid to begin with.

Why even play the regular season if that is the case?

Every year we see teams that do not belong in the NCAA Tournament solely get in because they literally won four games at the end of the season.

This year it was Houston, who won the Conference USA tournament after finishing 15-15 in the regular season and 7-9 in the conference, which currently holds one ranked team in 25th ranked UTEP. Houston's only win against a top 25 team came against UTEP in the Conference USA championship.

Also getting an automatic bid was Washington who was third in the PAC-10 conference which holds zero ranked teams. Washington finished the regular season 19-9, losing to the only ranked team they faced.

Illinois, Arizona State, Mississippi State, and Virginia Tech, along with a host of others, are far better teams than Houston and arguably better than Washington. 

Yes, it is exciting to watch a team win four or five games in a row to earn a bid, but will it be exciting when that team loses by 20 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament?

Is it fair to a team that has built a resume based on the entire season to hand their bid to a team that ended on a four-game winning streak against a bad conference?

Absolutely not.

Give the winner of a conference tournament respect while contemplating whether or not they should make the tournament, but do not give them an automatic bid. Give them an automatic NIT bid if anything.

Besides earning the respect of a conference, earning an NIT bid would make teams in the lower part of a conference play hard in their conference tournament to continue their seasons.

The NCAA tournament is about the 65 best teams playing against one another. As with any playoff system, you want the best of the best to play each other.

This automatic bid rule is completely hypocritical as to what a playoff system is all about.

Imagine if divisions in baseball held divisional tournaments for non-division winners at the end of the season and the winners would face one another for the wildcard.

Cool? Yes. Fair? Not in the least bit.

Most of the time the team that wins a conference tournament is, although unworthy of an automatic bid, at least decent, but one day a below .500 team is going to win their conference tournament and make a mockery out of the NCAA Tournament, while at the same time ruin the chances of a more worthy team.

But as with anything that raises money and T.V. ratings, especially in the NCAA, this rule will stand for some ridiculous reason.