Come Tournament Time, Its a Conference Game
Last week I wrote an article for the UWM Post, which was published in this week's issue and was released today(I'll leave a link at the bottom of this post.)
In it, I looked at the money that conferences recieve as a result of their tournament success and it gave me a new spin on both the college basketball regular season and the rooting interests of March Madness as a whole.
After my conversation with UWM Athletic Director Rick Costello, I couldn't help but feel that the regular season felt like a proving ground for which team could bring the most money back from the Big Dance for the conference. It lent a far greater team aspect to conferences and the regular season than I had previously understood. Of course, this won't change the fact that you hope your favorite team gets the chance to represent your conference when it matters, but it might change your rooting interests once they get there.
I believe you should root for your conference no matter what, come playoff time. I root for Butler because I go to Milwaukee and Butler's successes mean more opportunities to play better teams and more money for Milwaukee. I believe that Badger fans should have been rooting for Ohio State in the NCAA tournament as well. Even Duke fans should be rooting for UNC, and vice versa, until they end up playing each other.
Some say that this devalues rivalries or the regular season, but I don't see it that way at all. It's a matter of perspective, I see the conference as a loosely defined team when it comes to March Madness. Ohio State is on the same team as Wisconsin, doing their best to bring back as much for the Big Ten as they possibly can. Why would either root for the other to fail? Because they have sour grapes from the regular season? The regular season is child's play at that point, and a loss for a regular season foe is a loss for the conference as a whole.
The reason why lies within the NCAA's payment systems to the conferences. After the conference fulfills their budgeted requirements, the surplus gets split amongst all the teams in the conference. I don't know what that means for Badger or Golden Eagle fans, but for Panther fans, it means $40,000 - $50,000 per year coming into the athletic department.
That could be three or four scholarships for new athletes, or it's new uniforms for any number of teams. Maybe that money goes back into staffing to grow the department, or even towards that new arena you've been yearning for.
The regular season is invaluable, besides offering great games throughout the entirety, it shows who the best in your group is. There's no reason not to support the other members of your group and hope they succeed, even if its only to rub it in their faces when you get the better of them next season.
The original UWM Post article can be found here: