The hot topic around College Basketball these days is whether it is safe, or smart, to have conference tournaments this season due to COVID-19. As we inch closer to the end of the regular season, we are seeing more people, and more coaches, speak out about how playing in a conference tournament is a bad idea. The question is simple: is it worth the risk of possibly missing out on the NCAA Tournament?
Think about a team like Gonzaga. They surely have entrenched themselves as the number one seed, maybe even the top overall. Would there be any benefit for them to play in a conference tournament knowing that the only outcome would be the negative of losing a top player due to COVID protocols?
On the other hand, there are teams like Arizona State. A team with all the potential in the world. A team that on any given day, can beat anyone in the country. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t hit their stride yet. With no conference tournament, and the automatic NCAA Tournament bid that comes with it, they may not be given a chance to prove their potential.
Sure, even with all the circumstances surrounding this season, some teams have found a way to keep winning games, and have earned their way into the NCAA Tournament. But has everyone really been on the same playing field?
Look at the Ducks on the Men’s side. They have played 12 games this season, compared to a PAC-12 Conference high California, who has played 19. At this point, I find it rather unlikely that Oregon is able to find a way to play the same number of games as most everyone else in the country. That doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but it might cost them a seed or two.
There is a compelling argument for both sides. On one hand, player safety is always of the utmost importance, as it should be. Would players be put at greater risk by playing in a conference tournament, more so than any other time during the season? On the other hand, why not play the games if you have already gone through every other part of the season?
The reality is, this entire season has been a roller coaster ride for the players, the coaches, and fans all over the country. Nearly every team has had to deal with some sort of delay or postponement because of COVID protocols. Whether it be within their own team, or because of an opponent. The conference and NCAA Tournaments would be no different.
For a top ranked team who has already guaranteed themselves a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, no it probably isn’t worth it to play. A team that is fighting for a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, yes, it absolutely would be worth it. I’m not sure if there is a wrong or right answer.
If both Ducks teams, Men and Women, are in similar positions to where they are right now, what are your thoughts on them playing in the PAC-12 Tournament? Should they play, try to gain momentum and a better seed, or would you rather them not risk it and have a better chance of having a full squad ready for the NCAA Tournament?
Coach Alex Nordstrand
Top Photo By Gary Breedlove
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