NCAA Tournament expands, but only to 68 teams

  • 04/22/2010 2:11 pm in

Fear not, those worried about the NCAA making the bold move of expanding to a 96-team NCAA Tournament next season.

The news is in on the new TV deal, and for now, 96 teams ain’t happening.

From the NCAA’s press release:

The NCAA today announced a new 14-year television, internet and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., to present the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning in 2011 through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion. As part of the agreement, all games will be shown live across four national networks beginning in 2011 – a first for the 73-year old championship.

Additionally, CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting have been licensed and will collaborate on the NCAA’s corporate marketing program.

Late Wednesday, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee unanimously passed a recommendation to the Division I Board of Directors to increase tournament field size to 68 teams beginning with the 2011 Championship. The recommendation will be reviewed by the Division I Board of Directors at its April 29 meeting.

[ … ]

Beginning with the 2011 championship, opening- , first- and second-round games will be shown nationally on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional semi-final games. CBS will provide coverage of the regional finals, as well as the Final Four® including the National Championship Game through 2015. Beginning in 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner with the Final Four and the National Championship game alternating every year between the CBS Television Network and Turner’s TBS.

The assumption is that 68 teams next season means all 16 seeds will have a play-in game. The point of this, I’m not quite sure.

Other things of note: Because more channels are now involved in the contract, all games will be shown live at all times. No more missing any time of any game. If you want to watch a matchup in its entirety, you can do that now. Pretty nice, eh?

Oh, and just because 96 teams wasn’t instituted next season, doesn’t mean it will never be instituted. As former ITH and current ESPN blogstar Eamonn Brennan tweeted during the teleconference: “Jim Isch responds to Dana’s question about whether the tournament will be 68 teams for the length of the deal: For now.'”

So yes: For now, the Tournament is pretty much how we’ve always known it. Which means these Hoosiers are going to have to earn their first tourney appearance under coach Tom Crean.

As it should be.

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