I was engaged in a somewhat heated debate earlier today with a couple of my friends that also happen to be IU fans. We were discussing Indiana's loss and what it means for their tournament success this year. My first reaction was to say that teams that don't do well in their conference tourneys aren't built for the rugged nature of what the tournament environment brings. I always feel like teams can get completely exposed (especially younger teams, like Michigan this year) when they're placed in must-win situations, where if you lose, you go home.
Both of the guys I was talking to are completely irrational IU fans. They both are saying that conference tournaments don't really matter much, and of course, they're using the IU loss today as a "blessing in disguise" excuse. They're saying that smart teams will hold back or rest starters so nobody gets injured before the "real" tournament starts (not implying IU rested their starters today), similar to how NBA and NFL teams will not play to win their final games if their seeds are already locked up for the postseason. They're saying that this loss will wake the Hoosiers up and help them realize their faults so they can correct them for the tournament next week, and that it was actually a (gag) "good loss".
Anyway, I just looked it up quickly to see what the actual numbers say, and it's pretty inconclusive. Last year, only 1 team in the Final Four was a conference tournament champion, and only 2 teams total in the entire Sweet 16. This was an aberration though, because from 2008-2011, about half of the Sweet 16 teams each of the 4 years were conference tournament champions. In 2010 and 2011, 3 of the Final Four teams each year won their conference tournaments, and in 2008, all 4 Final Four teams had won theirs. In 2009 though, none of the teams in the Final Four were conference tournament champions.
I was just curious to see what you guys thought about this, because I think it's pretty interesting.
How important do you think the conference tournaments are to preparing a team for NCAA tournament success?
Very important. Conference tourney champions are more prepared for the tournament environment. (15 votes)
Somewhat important. Sometimes it prepares teams more, other times it doesn't seem to help. (42 votes)
Not important at all. Conference tournament success has no correlation to NCAA tournament success. (7 votes)
Inconclusive. It's different every year, and it depends more on the team and the league. (22 votes)
86 total votes