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?
Filed to: NCAA Tournament