The Michigan Daily - Tipoff '96 -
Postseason tourney could hit Big
Conference presidents could approve tournament plans at meetings in ea
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By Will McCaill
It's Saturday, March 8, 1997. You sit
down in front of your television to
watch some college basketball, some
NCAA-Tournament hoops. You turn on
the TV set.
You get Iowa at Northwestern. Or
Illinois at Purdue. Games scheduled for
that date, all likely to appear on your
But wait, you think, and switch over to
a national station. You find the Atlantic
Coast Conference tournament. The Big
East tournament. The Big
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neither of the first two
options, but they are what you might end
up seeing on the date in question.
Postseason conference tournaments
are currently the norm in every major
league except the Big Ten, the Pac-10
and the Ivy League, but now the Big Ten
looks ready to take its name out of that
At meetings last spring, the confer-
ence's basketball coaches and athletic
directors voted to commission a report
on the feasibility of a postseason tourna-
ment in the Big Ten.
The report, which is widely expected
to recommend the implementation of
such a tournament, will be presented to
the presidents and chancellors of the
conference's universities at meetings in
Chicago, Dec. 8-9. The group will then
vote to accept or reject the proposals set
forth in the report.
At last month's conference media day,
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and
the league's coaches indicated that they
expected a postseason tournament will
be in effect in the next few years, per-
haps as early as March 1998.
The implementation of a postseason
tournament would require cutting the
number of league contests for each team
from its current 18 games down to 16.
The tournament would run from
Thursday evening through Sunday after-
noon, the same time as other conference
The sites for the tournament have yet
to be determined, but facilities large
enough to host such an event exist
throughout the region, including The
Palace of Auburn Hills, Chicago's
United Center and domed stadiums in
Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
The Big Ten stands to gain substantial
television and corporate sponsorship
revenues from a tournament, estimated
by Delany's office to be $250,000 to
S500,000 per university. This figure
would cancel out potential losses of
between $50,000 and $200,000 to each
school as a result of lost regular-season
Most of the conference's coaches are
in favor of the tournament. for reasons
ranging from increased exposure for the
league to better preparation for the
Illinois coach Lon Kruger said they
increased visibility resulting from a con-
ference tournament would pay multiple
"During (early March), the Big Ten is
competing for a lot of the exposure that
all the other leagues are getting because
of their conference tournaments,"
Kruger said. "It helps across the board. It
helps recruiting efforts, the exposure the
Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, who,
like Kruger, has coached in postseason
tournaments in other leagues, agreed.
"It's very likely the Big Ten would get
its share of publicity, and (that) would no
doubt serve as a great
recruiting tool," he said.
]I NBennett also cited his
where he coached in the Midwestern
Collegiate Conference tournament..
"Every time we went into the NCAAs,
we were tournament-tough," he said.
"There was clearly a difference in the
way we came out of the postseason tour-
nament and the way we came out of the
end of the season."
Purdue coach Gene Keady, though not
the strongest proponent of the idea, said
the tournament might be a strong moti-
vation for teams going to the Big Dance.
"If you win the league and you get
upset (in the Big Ten tournament),
you're going to be mad as hell, and
you'll come back and be great in the
NCAAs," he said. "If you're sixth in the
league at the end of the season, and
you're hot and you win the league tour-
nament, now you're hot going into
NCAAs, and you're able to have a
Iowa coach Tom Davis said a confer-
ence tournament might help the Big Ten
improve its NCAA tournament showing,
which has been poor of late.
"You see great teams hat lose in their
confeience tournament, and you know
they're going to pbv harder in the
NCAAs," Davis said. "it's a great learn
Purdue guard Chad Aus'tin w- sof
much the same m7ind (:onceirnIng how
experience 'aieICd in a contcrncem, tour-
nament would pay off at a national level.
"(In the NCAAs), it's just one game
and out," Austin said. "As far as the Big
coach Clem Haskins and Indiana coach
Haskins said he believes that a post-
season tournament is simply another
way of milking college athletes who are
"We still continue to use our college
players to our advantage to make money,
and we don't put anything back ... for
the players," Haskins said.
Knight voiced concerns about the
potential loss of class time involved.
"I don't want to take my team some-
place for four or five days (for the con-
ference tournament) ... then turn around
and play in the NCAA Tournament,"
"I have never, ever been in favor of a
conference tournament, even when it
didn't come up"
Knight also said-he doubted a tourna-
ment would help the Big Ten's showing
in the NCAA Tournament.
"We're not going to get any more
teams in the NCAAs if we play three
conference tournaments," he said.
Fisher, who until last spring was
against the idea of a tournament, said he
believes the impact on athletes' studies
will be negligible.
"I don't think it would have a great
disruption, if any disruption, on acade-
mics," Fisher said.
Although the coaches almost talk
about the tournament as if it were a done
deal, the final say comes down to the
university heads at their meeting next
If the vote in that forum is anywhere
close to the tally among the coaches, col-
lege basketball fans will have more great
hoops to look forward to down the road.
March Madness, Big Ten style?
If he stays at Michigan long enough, soph
play in a Big Ten postseason tournament.
conference could vote on a plan to implen
other major conferences have season-endi
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Ten goes, you don't have a postseason
tournament, so we're not really used to
one game and out - we haven Axpeni.
enced that. Maybe wild a postseason
tournament you'd get the experiec o c
that. Maybe we'd do a little bette in the
And, Aocu.ri . th ..-), ways oncern
for fan snu n aon.
"Imagine getting the f ans and alumni
of II schools together in one place at
one time;' Kruger said. "I think that
would be a tough, tough ticket."
Michigan coach Steve Fisher also said
he thought a tournament might receive a
"It would create, obviously, great
excitement and interest, not just region-
ally, but I think nationally; he said.
Opposing the idea are Minnesota
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