Michigan Basketball: Big Ten Tournament — Tournaments and Tanking — How Beneficial Is It to Win Out?
The media loves big conference tournaments. Tournaments provide plenty of easy news and stories that generate excitement and increased readership. The big conferences love tournaments. This is an easy recipe for revenue and national exposure. Some coaches love conference tournaments. This may be the only means a team has to make the tournament.
Some coaches despise conference tournaments. It can be draining on player energy and takes away from planning time for the real show coming the following week. Most coaches do not want to expend maximum energy and focus and three or four days of effort to win a conference tournament. These coaches go through the motions, look positive and energetic, and then let what happens to happen. There is not a bucket of tears if the team, already tournament eligible, goes home early. In some circles this is called tanking. And this phenomenon is real, not imagined.
Some coaches do not mind the extra challenge and do not worry about any extraneous variable except playing hard and winning. The tournament may be viewed merely as tough preparation. So, predicting a major conference bracket is sometimes tougher than first round NCAA games, where winning is the only concern.
The question is to tank or not to tank? Some teams have made long and draining runs in conference tournaments and showed up a few days later not even resembling the hot on a roll team that impressed just a few days earlier. Some teams just keep going on mental toughness energy.
There are certain teams in the Big Ten that will not even consider tanking. The bottom-rung teams have a slim and none hope of dancing, but slim beats none. A team like Penn State may play harder than say a Michigan or Minnesota, teams that pretty much have seeding number locked regardless of tournament success. Iowa is very much in the hunt to come from barely being mentioned to making the tournament. The Hawkeyes may be a team that most others would love to avoid. Iowa will play hard and also play very tough defense. The further a tournament progresses, the important good defense becomes.
Some teams are really hot now and do not want momentum to switch. Ohio State would be the perfect example of the above. Ohio State’s shooting has improved and a team that was somewhat off track is now playing the best ball in the conference.
Michigan State just likes to play and will play hard. Coach Izzo likes for his team to face all challenges. Teams like Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan will be in a wait and see mode regarding who shows up and plays well.
Michigan will play Penn State, and the Lions will not go meekly into the night. If Michigan advances Wisconsin is next. The Badgers have run out of gas somewhat and Michigan has the better talent. Wisconsin does have noticeable advantages however. First, Bo Ryan gets extra preparation time, and when this happens Wisconsin is very tough to beat. Michigan will get basically no preparation time. Wisconsin will be far more rested.
Beating Penn State and going against Wisconsin in a quick turn-around could give advance notice as to how hard Michigan is willing to compete in a do or go home scenario. It may be to Michigan’s favor to fight through Wisconsin and then perhaps Indiana, rather than going through Ohio State and Michigan State.
A sleeper will have its work cut out to get past Wisconsin and Indiana on one side and Michigan State and Ohio State on the other side. We will soon see who comes to play.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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