Conference Clash: Is March Madness About Conferences? Or Teams?

Two days ago, Sean (in a very well-written piece, as always) referenced a heated discussion we had with our friend, Fitz. These two jabronis were on the same side on this argument, and quite frankly, I think they are both moronic.

It started with a discussion of the strength of conferences. Our consensus, as well as the consensus of anyone with a working brain, was that the elite conferences in college basketball are the ACC, the Big 10, and the Big XII. Obviously, I go to a school that plays in the BIG EAST, so I’m biased. While I don’t think the conference is quite in that tier, Fitz completely, utterly disagreed. You see, Fitz claimed that the conference overrates itself and is overrated by everyone (even though NO ONE overrates the BIG EAST, but I digress). He claimed the conference isn’t a fringe major conference, but in the middle of the road, closer to the strength of the AAC, the A-10, and so on. He said that they don’t deserve their TV deal with FOX (sorry for good marketing and negotiation?). While I can’t argue that most BIG EAST teams haven’t enjoyed extensive success in the tournament since the conference realigned only three short seasons ago (save Villanova this season, who is destroying everyone in their path), especially considering the storied tradition of the original BIG EAST, I wouldn’t go as far as Fitz did. I think they’re rather close to the three big boy conferences in terms of strength, especially since the BIG EAST teams beat the Big 10 teams in the Gavitt Tip-Off Games.

We talked about the significance of conferences in March Madness. I argued that there was no significance, while the other two argued that there was. Fitz even uttered the words (though he will go to his grave denying it) that “The AAC is better than the BIG EAST because they have a more recent Final Four appearance and National Championship title”.

Charlie Kelly Imgur

That right there should lose him rights to watch college basketball forever. Under no circumstances is that even relatively close to being true. You know who he sounds like? Stephen A. Smith. It’s as if he has a grudge or something against the BIG EAST. Like what did they ever do to you, bro? Love the kid to death, he’s one of my best friends, but in this case? Clueless, completely clueless.

I think that March Madness is about the best teams in the country, period. End of story, end of discussion. I don’t think conferences are relevant. If conferences were relevant, there would never be any Cinderella runs, and champions would be picked after the regular season. Some truly great teams who are capable of being National Champions get eliminated, what can I say? Do you truly think that Middle Tennessee State is better than Michigan State (this year’s golden calf of the Big 10, I might add)? Of course not! They were a solid matchup, and they caught the Spartans on a bad day. But is this bad for the Big 10? No! Of course it isn’t- on the contrary, it’s great for college basketball as a whole. No Big 10 team is in the Final Four this year- does that conference suck, now? Oklahoma is the first Big XII team since 2012 to make it to the Final Four- so has that entire conference been underperforming until right now? You answer that for yourselves. It’s further evidence that, in March, anyone can win on any given day at any given place.

Also, his argument made it sound as if conferences were in it together as far as elevating the prestige of the league they play in. This is how I read that argument, okay – I despise Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Marquette, Georgetown, and so on during the year. I root against them before conference play begins, during conference play, and during the conference tournament. If each team could lose every single game, I would love it. I’d have a huge ass smile on my face. But once March Madness starts, I’m supposed to root for them? So that my team looks better? Let’s use this as an example- Xavier looks awful right now. Awful. They lost too early to a team that they are better than. It’s really quite that simple. They didn’t produce. But since Villanova is in the Final Four, Xavier is better now? So is Seton Hall, who was embarrassed by Gonzaga? Or Providence, who was run off the floor by UNC? That’s crazy talk.

Finally, the entire conference does not win the National Championship. Sure, they might market it that way. Sure, each team might get a cut of revenue. But if the Wildcats win it all, do you think there will be a banner hanging in the Cintas Center? Or in the Dunkin Donuts Center? Do you think I, as a fan, will be happy with a rival winning the crown? That’s like being a Red Sox fan and being content if the Yankees win the World Series because the trophy is in the AL East. UConn won the National Championship two seasons ago, so every single AAC team has a championship banner in their gym, right? Absolutely not. You win and lose as a team, not as a conference. Whether there’s a conference logo on your jersey or not, players represent the school that they go to. Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds do not represent Butler or DePaul.

This is my opinion. I’ve heard from a lot of the kids I graduated high school with, and it seems like most of them agree with me. But I see where both Sean and Fitz are coming from. And even though I said they’re clueless and kind of remind me of Stephen A., they got some good points.

What do you guys think? Comment below, on Facebook, on Twitter or on FanTalk. I want to hear your opinions so I know who stands with me and who shall forever be my mortal enemy.


DISCLAIMER: Even if you disagree with me, you won’t be my mortal enemy probably.


Cover photo courtesy of CBS Sports

GIF courtesy of Imgur


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