Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 5, 2012

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 13 of 54

Time to give the regular season a boost THE VOICE MATT LEPAY • VOICE OF THE BADGERS F or the record, Bo Ryan's Badgers went 3-0 against the two teams that beat Kentucky this season. Wisconsin beat Indiana twice, and then knocked off Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament. Maybe that is small consolation, and I under- stand that comparing scores can be misleading, but I thought I would throw it out there. Now you know. In the world of college football and basketball, it is interesting how the sports have such vastly different seasons. In football, the regular season is precious, and the critics continue to hammer away for a playoff. In basketball, for millions of the more casual sports fans, it is all about those three weeks in March and early April. I believe it is safe to say that a good chunk of the sporting pub- lic pays close attention to college hoops only during the NCAA tour- nament. Locally, that might not be the case because attendance at the Kohl Center remains strong, but there is a reason CBS pays billions of dol- lars in rights fees, and it probably isn't for the Sunday games it shows in January. While the powers that be con- tinue to discuss a possible football playoff, maybe college basketball could look at ways to boost the regular season. One idea seems obvious — re- 14 » VARSITY APRIL 5, 2012 ward the regular season conference champion with an automatic bid in the NCAA field. Clearly, this was not a banner year for the Pac-12, but for Wash- ington, a league crown was ren- dered useless after a conference tournament loss to Oregon State. For the Huskies, it was off to the NIT. To their credit, they advanced to the semifinals before losing to Minnesota. I say "to their credit" because it might have been very easy for Washington's players to I get the excitement of conference tourna- ments, but I believe the game would be even better if the regular season is rewarded as it should be — all across the board. blow off that tournament. I mean, what does a coach say to a team after it wins the regular season title, only to be told that it is still not good enough to get in the NCAA tournament? I understand the reason for con- ference tournaments. Revenue, for one, and a chance for lower-profile conferences to get some national exposure. Everyone knows the risk in- volved, and there have been mul- tiple instances where those so- called mid-major teams have lost an NCAA bid because of five bad minutes in a league tourney game. This season it just happened to burn a program in a power confer- ence. Yes, it was a down year for that league, but there were 12 teams with a lower RPI than Washington that made the dance. While the RPI is only part of the formula the tournament selection committee uses, doesn't that fact seem a bit odd? Perhaps it is unrealistic to reward automatic bids for both regular season and conference tour- nament champions, but it seems to me that a team proving to be the best of its league during a period of more than two months should carry a little extra weight. I get the excitement of confer- ence tournaments, but I believe the game would be even better if the regular season is rewarded as it should be — all across the board. March Madness is great, and I love every minute of it. I also hap- pen to enjoy those other months of the college basketball season. Fortunately here in Wisconsin, I have lots of company. A big-time regular season game generates plenty of buzz in Badger Nation, and that is good. I just tend to believe that too many sports fans across the nation are missing out on the fun prior to March.

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