It has become regular place for the winners of a league's season-end conference tournament to earn a place in the NCAA Tournament. The only conference that does not award their automatic big through a tournament is the Ivy League. They, correctly, send their regular season champions to participate in March Madness.
More conferences should adopt a method similar to the Ivy League's system. For small conferences, the postseason tournaments diminish the importance of the regular season schedule to a point where there is, essentially, none. They send the team that is hottest over a three day period instead of the team that has proven their ability over a long stretch.
This is even more important for the lesser conferences; only one team will usually make it into the tournament field.
If a team is unable to win the conference championship in no-name conference, what are the chances they are capable of knocking off a second or third seed? Maybe, just maybe, this could be the reason why, historically, the Ivy League has faired well in the tournament.
The only benefit for a conference to hold the postseason tournament is for the national media attention. ESPN devotes an entire week to tournament games for the small conferences. ("They are just playing for the chance to be at the tournament," they say. "Look at the passion!") What these tournaments come down to, for the people running each conference, is money.
Without the postseason coverage, who would small conferences turn to for additional revenue? It is a possibility that they look at their loyal fans. They could get earn for money for regular season games when the games have a tangible impact. Attendance might increase.
Please, small-conferences-who-nobody-knows-about, consider changing the way things are done. If only for the dramatic increase in the competitive level of the first round tournament games.
As it is now, the most dominant teams in the country are matched up against teams incapable of winning their own Podunk conference.