At the College Basketball Roundtable, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a current topic in the sport.
Today's question: Two items from the news last week. One is that the Ivy League again has decided not to have a conference tourney, and the other is that George Mason – which had garnered interest from other leagues – is staying in the Colonial. Does either decision surprise you?
Mike Huguenin's answer: I'm not surprised by the Ivy League's decision, but I am by George Mason's. I think the Ivy likes being the only league without a conference tournament, and I also think that fits the Ivy's "academics is first and foremost" model. In addition, the non-tourney ideal means the Ivy always is represented by the team that had the best regular season, which is a positive. If more leagues did that, I think more "lesser" leagues would have teams pull early-round upsets in the NCAAs. (One thing that still bothers me about the Ivy, though: It lets its champs play in every postseason except in football. That's ridiculous.) As for Mason, I think the school will regret not pursuing membership in the Atlantic 10. The A-10 is a better league, and I think Mason could be left behind if fellow Virginia schools VCU and Old Dominion move on from the Colonial. ODU, which plays football, reportedly is considering joining Conference USA, while VCU also has received overtures from the A-10. Hey, perhaps Mason likes the idea of potentially being a big fish in a relatively small pond.
Steve Megargee's answer: Neither decision particularly surprised me, though I still wonder about the Colonial's long-term future. If VCU and Old Dominion already had left the Colonial, then I would have expected George Mason to follow suit. Now I'll be interested in seeing whether ODU and VCU stick around. VCU apparently is thinking about leaving for the Atlantic 10, while Old Dominion has its eye on Conference USA. I'd love to see the Colonial keep all three teams because it's been one of the more interesting mid-major conferences in recent seasons. But I'm not sure that's going to happen. I'd love to see more low-major conferences follow the lead of the Ivy League, though the lure of the television exposure that comes from a conference tournament seems too tempting for most leagues. By not having a conference tournament, the Ivy League assures that its best team goes to the NCAA tournament. And that increases the likelihood of the Ivy League representative actually making some noise in March. If more low-major conferences followed that same strategy, we'd probably get more first-round upsets and fewer first-round blowouts in each NCAA tournament.
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