Every year a few mid-major teams are rewarded for one week instead of an entire season. It's already happened a few times at the beginning of March Madness in 2017. 4th-seeded Jacksonville State won the Ohio Valley and 4th-seeded Northern Kentucky won the Horizon League. While they're fantastic teams that accomplished the feat of winning three consecutive games and taking down their conference's top talent, it dooms the top seeds in these tournaments that battled for that spot for over two months. These teams should still be rewarded for a more prestigious accomplishment of winning the Regular Season crown, but how should that be done?

How March Madness automatic berths are done right now

As it stands right now, regular season conference champions are all guaranteed a spot in the NIT tournament. This means teams like Belmont and Oakland who won the OVC and Horizon League, respectively, will be playing in a postseason dance if they're not at-large berths for the bigger and better NCAA field of 68. Most bigger conferences don't have this issue. The Power Five, Big East, AAC, and usually the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10, and Mountain West will get their regular season champion in because they'll have an impressive enough resume.

However, there's many more smaller conferences that won't have this luxury. It's only common sense to reward those teams that battle when conference play begins instead of a team that wins a one-week tournament.

ESPN College Basketball analysis Jay Williams provides a switch for the automatic berths.

While that's an interesting concept, it completely devalues the conference tournament.

There would be no incentive to play for a lower tier tournament. That's the intrigue of the entire week -- teams that have no shot of an at-large bid get one last crack at their dreams. It's a little redundant for conferences that already multiple bids, but that's a different argument.

Allowing both champions in March Madness

The best conclusion to reward regular season and tournament champions is to give them both a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Immediate problems come into question -- are there enough spots to warrant that and would some teams throw a tournament to add another team from their conference in?

First off, there are 32 conference in Division I, so if there happened to be two different winners in every single conference, they would all fit in the field of 68. However, the chances of that happening are very slim.

As for the other issue, there needs to be incentive to win the conference tournament. To avoid regular season champions from throwing the tournaments and allowing other teams in the big dance for more conference exposure, we would add one rule.

If the regular season champion would not have been selected in the at-large pool and didn't win their conference tournament, they'll be the lowest seed possible.

To give an example, Oakland and Belmont would be in the NCAA Tournament, but since they didn't win their conference dance, they'll each be given one of the six 16 seeds. Would this cause some annual lower-tier conference champions to get a higher seed than they deserve? Perhaps it could, but it's the best incentive to keep everyone playing while making the regular season more meaningful than a two-month journey to seed yourself in a four-day tournament.

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