Double-bye? Single-bye? Who cares?

The Big Ten recently unveiled what its 2014 men’s basketball tourney bracket will look like going forward now that the conference has 14 teams. The format will feature a double-bye for the top four seeds.

This has Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News wondering if some coaches should worry.

[ Team schedules: Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin ]

It seems the extra time off isn’t always desirable for coaches. Instead of sitting for the first two days of the tournament and presumably getting rusty, some coaches would prefer to be playing. Isn’t it advantageous to rest after a long regular season? Isn’t that a reward? But, I digress.

To me, fretting over the merits or demerits of a league tourney double-bye seems to be much ado about nothing.

To begin with — How much do teams seeded Nos. 1-4 have to gain by playing in a conference tourney? Not much. They can maybe improve their NCAA seed by one—up or down. But, typically, teams this good that are seeded that highly in a league like the Big Ten already basically are locked into an NCAA seed.

These conference tournaments are of little value to highly-seeded teams, but they are of great value to those trying to gain entry to the Big Dance or play themselves off the dreaded bubble. Yes, I typed “bubble” in August. I am sorry.

What do top-four seeds have to gain from league tourneys? Not much, save for a league tourney banner to hang in their gym. But, let’s be honest: A regular-season title is much more rewarding and impressive. To be the best over a three-month period is much more impressive than being the best over a five-day period.

Double-bye, single-bye … who cares?

This is what I like to call a “luxury” problem for elite teams. And, luxury problems are nice to have.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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2 Comments

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Matt Barker on 8/22/2014 @ 7:00pm EDT Said:

But, let’s be honest: A regular-season title is much more rewarding and impressive. To be the best over a three-month period is much more impressive than being the best over a five-day period.

Are you kidding me Dienhart? Unless the Big Ten expands to to 26 conference games with each team getting everyone at home and on the road, I just see how you can say that. Every year at least one contender gets an easy schedule compared to others. What’s going to happen when the B1G expands to 16?

Eric on 8/23/2014 @ 10:19am EDT Said:

Matt, I’ve got to go with him on that. The regular season champ is the Big Ten champ. I’ll grant the schedule isn’t even, but it’s never been even in football and we’ve always accepted that. It’s far more even in the regular season than in a tournament that coaches only kind of care and where an upset or unmotivated team in your bracket can make all the difference (especially if you only need 3 games to win).