So, where do you stand on NCAA Tournament expansion?

  • 02/02/2010 7:34 pm in

Talk of an NCAA Tournament expansion was pushed to the front page again on Monday when SportsbyBrooks reported, via sources, that expansion to a 96-team tournament was a done deal:

Sources at ESPN and inside the administration at a powerhouse NCAA basketball school told me today that the NCAA basketball tournament going to 96 teams is a “done deal.

An ESPN source said, “It’s a done deal with the expansion of the tournament. Depending on how soon a (TV) deal is done, the added teams could start next year. The NCAA confirmed that bidders would be interested in 96 teams, so they’re going with it.

NCAA Vice President Greg Shaheen quickly refuted the notion that any deal for expansion is done, but did admit that the NCAA is talking with parties who have interest. CBS has the rights to the tournament (at over $2 billion) for three more years, but the NCAA has the right to opt out of the contract until August 31. This opens up the possibility of another network, like ESPN, swooping in with a more lucrative deal which includes expansion. More games to televise equals more money for the NCAA and whomever ends up with the broadcasting rights.

But, money aside, is this really the right move for college basketball? The opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is, in my opinion, the best sports weekend of the year. And as someone who subscribes to idea of “if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it,” expansion seems like a money grab and well, not much else. It certainly won’t improve the quality of the tournament because 31 borderline teams will be added to the field.

So, where do you stand on this, ITH’ers? Could you live with an expanded tournament? Or is the path to expansion one big mistake?

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  • kesims

    im all for it if it starts next year because then we would be back in.LOL I can see the argument for both sides. On one hand, every year you have legitimate complaints from teams who thought they deserved to get in (i.e. penn state who went on to win NIT) ….On the other hand the tourney is already perfect why mess with it? I would like to know how they are going to pick the 31 teams. If adding more teams means that they are just going to allow tiny schools from no name conferences a bid into the tournament (like more 16 seeds) than I am against it. …Im all for cinderellas–thats what march is about but i think we have enough of those in the current form…Im all for being able to add teams with legitimate resumes a shot in the tourney.

  • GFDave

    Where I stand is this: Since the potential winners are already in the field, leave the it alone or open it up to everybody in D1 basketball. Any changes to field size won't make a difference as far as the eventual winner is concerned, but I can't stand the prospect of hearing about the 97th place team's bubble status. Laughable. I also think it will ruin the opening weekend of the tournament which routinely yields exciting games between teams of known history and quality.

    Where the NCAA stands is this: On a heaping pile of money.

  • indyd

    HATE IT!

  • BaseballBuc

    Yea, this is a tough one. I can see both sides to the argument as well. Coach K has been all for this saying it would put more merit on the regular season. I would personally leave it the way it is. This situation is a lot like the project to expand the Big 10. Of course, by adding a 12th team gives us a league championship and a lot more money for the Big 10. The same thing would be happening with the field expanding to 96. It will give the NCAA a lot more money. If it will benefit us in the long run and really put more merit to the regular season, I am all for it. But if it is just a get rich quick scheme for the NCAA, I say leave it the way it is. Besides, I kind of like the occasional cinderella that comes out of a conference tournament every once and a while.

  • IUonetwo

    I don't understand why the conferences, especially the Big Ten, aren't fighting this. The tournament expansion would devalue the regular season and conference tournaments. With 96 teams the Big Ten would send the same 8 teams 90% percent of the time, almost regardless of the outcomes of the games down the stretch.

    For example, take UConn, UNC, and UofL this season. The closer we get to the tournament more casual watchers are going to tune in to watch these teams. But with a 96 team field these teams are certainly in, so these late Feb/ early March games lose their significance, viewers, and payouts for the conference.

  • SHOLLINGSWORTH

    The comments I have heard over the years about expanding past 64 teams sound a lot like when the NCAA expanded last time.

    I think the expansion to 64 teams has worked very well. And I see no reason why we shouldn't go to 96 or all the way.

    With 96 teams, I assume they seed the top 32 teams and have the other 64 teams play in? Sounds like fun to me.

  • Pros:
    +Joe Lunardi will become irrelevant. How did he get a job doing what we all do?
    +With more teams, rights may go to ESPN, which eans we can flip between games! Despite CBS going online the past few years, I have a decade of pent up rage against them for hogging all the action.
    +With the rise of midmajors in the new millenium, they'll get their litmus test against the power conferences instead of their one shot they get preconference.
    +Remember how paltry IU fans' attendance was vs. Vanderbilt in the NIT in 2005? Yeah, it would have been packed if it was IU vs Vanderbilt as the 19 vs 14 play-in game regardless of where it was held. NIT will RIP
    + 16 seeds of yesteryear will become 24 seeds. No more freebies for #1 teams.

    Cons
    – The math works beautifully as it is (minus that stupid play in game).
    – Top teams play opening day as it is now.
    – It'll hurt IU's recruiting once Crean gets us back to a nationally ranked program. Kids can take a chance on a smaller school and still have a good shot at the NCAA tourney, so we lose that selling point.
    – I love to see reactions on selection sunday for borderline teams. Now these teams can rest easy on a job not-so-well done. That is not what America is about!
    – This move is money driven (which is what America is about), so why dilute the madness with more frivolous games? Have Chevy pay more for their one ad instead of letting them air the same ad 10 times during a game.

    Conclusion: It is the best post season in all of sports. Am I resistant to change? Maybe, because it works so well already. NCAA, fix football first! But will I adapt? Of course I will, because there will be a bunch more drama, as long as Greg Gumbel doesn't keep interrupting it.

  • cooper

    It will mean the opening weekend will include a number of blowouts and will be boring. A number of BCS conference teams that don't deserve to be there will make it.

    Teams will be able to rest players, and not go all out because they know they are going to make the tournament. It will make the regular season less important, its going to be like the NBA

  • IUDan

    I've never really held myself up as a “traditionalist” – I like good change. I have to say, though – I think this is about the worst idea I've ever heard. The only good thing is that it would allow more quality “mid-major” programs in, or programs from conferences that typically only send the conf champ (in the case where another quality team that isn't quite good enough to be an “at large” is left out).

    I'm NOT interested in seeing the 8th best team in teh B10 or ACC play – I'm just not . . we've seen enough of them as it is. And for young teams, or teams that took a while to hit their stride and are playing well late, well, the NIT is for them, which is fine.

    The NCAA tournament as it is is truly one of the greatest times in sports . .. it's working . .. just leave it alone!

  • ct203

    The 64 team system is already perfect. Unlike the BCS, the NCAA has a system that works in March Madness. In my opinion, there would not be much excitement in expanding to add more bubble teams. There are already enough .500 (and even some sub .500 occasionally) who make the tournament through the play in game or winning a mid-major conference tournament. There is already plenty of drama and upsets. I think that many teams would take away from that and even make it boring. If we are thinking about academic and the NCAA, wouldn’t 96 teams keep kids out of school for a really long time? Teams that make it deep in the tournament miss a lot of class. 96 teams doesn’t benefit the viewers or the student-athletes.

  • Dirk

    Until a 16 seed takes down a 1 seed, there is no reason to expand past 64.

  • SoCalCARM

    Completely ridiculous. 64 (err 65, with that stupid play-in game) teams is already too many. Since 1985 (the shift to 64 teams), only one team seeded #8 or lower has played in/won the National Championship game. And only 5 teams seeded 8 or lower have made the Final Four. Now we are gonna make it even easier on the top 32 by giving them a first round bye? And the dream of seeing a #16 seed beat a #1 has just all but ended. There will always be someone on the outside saying they deserve to be there – and that will continue as long as a committee determines who plays and who doesn't.

  • jaywiz

    big mistake? no. HUGE mistake? yes. I have read a few other comments that have hit the nail right on the head. This is not football where a mediocre 6-6 team is eligible to play in the postseason.Expansion only reduces the magic of February and March bball. Everybody likes a cinderella , but does anybody else hate bracket buster weekend? That is exactly what this will do. bracket buster postseason = fail. If the Ncaa does try this, then I think after a few years they will realize how big of a mistake that they made. Making the big dance is supposed to be an achievement, not a right.

  • I'm not a big fan of expanding to 96 teams, but I do have an idea to add some teams so the NCAA can get more revenue, while also making the play-in game far more exciting.

    Check out my blog for more on it: http://www.prinsportsblog.com

    Basically I think the NCAA should have four play-in games, but make the play-in games the last at-large in vs. the last four out. It would make the play-ins far more exciting. I'd love to hear thoughts on this.

  • IUonetwo

    Cool idea, but…
    5 seeds would be getting to play a team that is coming off a hard fought game earlier that week and would have little time to prepare, whereas 4 seeds have to play a fresh 13 seed that has been preparing for them all week, not to mention that this would be the best 4 teams of the mid-majors

    So who would you rather play, a handicapped UConn or a full strength Kent St?

    The more I think about it the more intriguing it becomes…

  • Thanks, I'm sure there are some kinks to work out. I may be wrong, but it's my understanding that the #12 seeds are usually the last four at-large in. I admit I didn't really think about how fair or unfair it may be to the #5 seed teams.

  • BFowler

    If the argument is that some deserving teams do not get in the tournament, then you can say that whether there is 32, 64/65, 96, or 311 of 312. The last team out will always gripe and complain. If the argument that the ones not included have a shot at winning the title, you are out of your mind. If the argument is that the NCAA needs more money, then the logical thing would be to expand, but honestly, who watches the play-in game? I have never watched the entire thing.

    I propose a compromise. Have 8-16th seeded teams. Then you can have 4 play-in games (or opening round, whatever) for those teams that did not win their conference regular season but won their tourmnament. It is usually from the low-major or mid-major conferences that the argument comes from anyway, I mean, Michigan State and North Carolina did not win their conference tournaments, yet there they are in Detroit playing for the title. This would accomplish getting four more BCS conference teams in the tournament for marquee first- and second-round match-ups.

  • BFowler

    If the argument is that some deserving teams do not get in the tournament, then you can say that whether there is 32, 64/65, 96, or 311 of 312. The last team out will always gripe and complain. If the argument that the ones not included have a shot at winning the title, you are out of your mind. If the argument is that the NCAA needs more money, then the logical thing would be to expand, but honestly, who watches the play-in game? I have never watched the entire thing.

    I propose a compromise. Have 8-16th seeded teams. Then you can have 4 play-in games (or opening round, whatever) for those teams that did not win their conference regular season but won their tourmnament. It is usually from the low-major or mid-major conferences that the argument comes from anyway, I mean, Michigan State and North Carolina did not win their conference tournaments, yet there they are in Detroit playing for the title. This would accomplish getting four more BCS conference teams in the tournament for marquee first- and second-round match-ups.

  • If you look at the NCAA Board (Brooks has it posted today), you'll see that almost all of the drive for this is from mid-major schools.

  • I've been touting this expansion for a couple of years, as well. It's a grand idea!

  • indyd

    Wouldn't the additional 31 teams just be the N.I.T.?

    Coaches want this because they can say they made the tournament.. no matter how watered down it is.

  • Bryan

    I'm firmly against this, because:
    1. One of the interesting story lines at this part of the season are the bubble teams. With 96 teams, instead of looking at middle-of-the-pack teams, this bubble now looks at lower tier schools from the major conferences (let's not kid ourselves, in no way will this open the floodgates to mid-major conferences).
    2. I know fewer people actually print a bracket these days, but the extended rounds will make it harder to parse a single bracket.
    3. Why can the basketball tournament theoretically last a 4 weeks, dragging “student athletes” across the country week-to-week, but their classmates on the football team can only finish a season, take a month off, and play a single game with a randomly matched opponent?
    4. I'm also not crazy about the idea of byes in this tournament. It was one thing to force a pair of slug opponents to play-in two nights before the real tourney. It's another to give the top 14 – 16 seeds in the tournament a week off.
    5. Would this larger scale tournament cause some teams to start easing up at the end of the regular season? Not quite like what the Colts did earlier this season, but in the mold of, we've got a pretty good idea where we're seeded, let's call of the dogs a bit otherwise we're gonna be gassed for the NCAAs?
    7. Will fans travel for the opening round games, since your team will only be playing one game at that site? How spread out are the “first round” sites? Will their travel distance be “fair” compared to where they'll go in the next round to face a rested opponent?

  • marsh21

    The regular season is already irrelevant as so much emphasis is put on March Madness. With 85% of the NCAA basketball revenues coming from that tournament it's easy to see why they want to expand.

    Even though everyone wants a tournament in football, they have a much better regular season as every game is huge if you want to win a title or get to a BCS. For the big programs in basketball the regular season is just a formality. Poor design and it's going to get worse.

  • ldiu

    This is a bad idea and is 100% for the $$$$$$$$$$$$ that the NCAA will generate.

  • tberry

    Any bigger and you might as well let everybody in. I think there are too many now. In the past you has to one of the best to get in. Now, you just have to be acceptable to have an aceptable NCAA record.

  • ronb

    I am with Coach K and Coach Knight. If you play in a lesser conference and win the regular season and then lose in their tournament you don't get in. Who should get rewarded? The team that wins the conference tournament with a 14-18 record or the team that was 22-10 and won the conference title? If you add 1 game and put in the top 128 teams then you fix this problem and everyone who should get in will. The first games should be played at the school with the higher seed and the next round at the regional sites like they are now.

  • JerryCT

    I agree with the naysayers for all their reasons. The regular season is much better when there is competition to get into the tournament. Poor Syracuse even had to schedule some away games and play good teams to convince the NCAA that the non -conf schedule counted.

    The season needs to count for something

  • tberry

    Once everybody can get in, it will become meaningless!!!

  • I always thought that, if they should expand it, they should add more play-in games, and confine the play-ins to those teams that were “on the bubble”. So, instead of playing for the 16th seed, you'd have 8-16 teams playing for the 12 and 11 seeds in all four regionals. That seems more fair (and more sensible) than expanding the thing out to 96.

    There's enough teams, why not just do something like the IHSAA used to do, and have all the teams play one tournament, and have the sectionals play into the 64 team bracket? That way, you could show Indiana (the state) what it was missing.

  • Adding a championship game in football, though, helps you with an argument that you could field two teams in the BCS games, which ends up with more money for the conference overall.

    I'm not sure if you're still going to get that “$1,000,000 per every round of the tournament you make it to” thing with 96 teams. I guess we'll have to see how much money ESPN will throw at the NCAA in order to have control of the tournament.

    Get ready to see your cable bills skyrocket. Again.

  • jpniles

    I dont want to sound like an alarmist… but I think that this is a horrible idea that will ruin college basketball. I hate to restate what has already been said, but it will ruin the competition that we see in late January/February as teams duke it out for a spot in the tourney. This is not a good idea!

  • Dylan, I couldn't agree more with your Joe Lunardi comment. I've been calling him out for years, and I've even shown that I have a slightly better success rate at picking schools than he does, and I do my picks a week before Selection Sunday, and he updates his all the way through Championship Week.

  • If you look at the NCAA Board (Brooks has it posted today), you'll see that almost all of the drive for this is from mid-major schools.

  • I've been touting this expansion for a couple of years, as well. It's a grand idea!

  • MillaRed

    I think they should expand to 128 teams….this year only. The Hoosiers will get a 28 seed and match up against Loyola, moving on to 30 point victory while flipping them the bird.

    That would be awesome!

  • indyd

    Wouldn't the additional 31 teams just be the N.I.T.?

    Coaches want this because they can say they made the tournament.. no matter how watered down it is.

  • Martin

    Why not go all the way to 4096 teams? Then we can include middle school and high school programs from across the country, and March Madness can become March, April, June, and July madness. Something to watch until football pre-season gets going.

  • warford574

    I read this website every day and finally found something that makes we want to comment. I think this is the best option but alot of you might disagree…here it is……
    1. take the top 64 teams from major confrences and have a tournament
    2. take the top 64 teams from mid/low confrences and have a tournament

    there are way to many teams in division 1 as it is 347? why?
    and just to make things interesting have the teams of each tournament play for a championship

  • warford574

    I read this website every day and finally found something that makes we want to comment. I think this is the best option but alot of you might disagree…here it is……
    1. take the top 64 teams from major confrences and have a tournament
    2. take the top 64 teams from mid/low confrences and have a tournament

    there are way to many teams in division 1 as it is 347? why?
    and just to make things interesting have the teams of each tournament play for a championship

  • Vslice

    The only thing that is giving this any momentum is the power of money. It absolutely helps no one. Like an earlier post said, until a 16 seed knocks off a 1 why expand. This will completely water down the tournament in my opinion. Believe me college basketball is my favorite sport to watch and to me there is nothing like that opening weekend in March, but adding more teams will absolutely not add to the excitement level. There are always four or five teams that get pinched out, but thats the way the cookie crumbles. Guess what, when they expand to 96 there will be a team that has an RPI or 88 saying, “We were robbed, we were 14-16 with no quality wins and we should be in.” This is stupid, adds nothing for the fans, only adds money to the wallets to the company who can showcase all these “sleeper games”. Bad decision for college basketball!!

  • plane1972

    The conference tournaments become irrelevant = money shifting away from the conferences to the NCAA. I can't imagine why the conferences would want to support this. I would presume attendance at those tournaments would dwindle as those play-in games become less meaningful.

  • marcusgresham

    I disagree that this eliminates the chances of seeing a #16 beat a #1. You have a better chance of a #16 being a team who was an NIT championship-quality team than some of the small-conference dregs that get #16 seeds in the current set-up. Now, would that diminish the significance of a #1 being knocked out? Perhaps, but it also sets up a chance for MORE upsets of higher seeded teams because they'll be playing those mid-range BCS conference teams that can rise up and win a game. I'm also for anything that gets rid of that one stupid play-in game (or will they expand to 97 soon after 96 since it appears Dayton is the Play-in For Life site?)