Friday, April 2, 2010

A 96-team NCAA tourney? I'm for it

The NCAA sounds is seriously considering a proposal to expand its season-ending men's tournament to 96 teams from the current 65. That could happen as early as the 2011 men's tournament.

The doomsayers, of course, will say this means the tournament will be watered-down -- that making the tournament field won't mean as much, that the regular season won't seem as important and so on.

I'm old enough to remember those exact same arguments being made 25 years ago, in 1985, when the tournament expanded from 53 to 64 teams. And that worked out just fine, didn't it?

I know this is a calculated money play -- that more games means more TV money, and that the NCAA is looking for a lot more cash from its No.1 cash cow. Still, I'm fine with it, because I think it gives the average sports fan more of what they're looking for.

The top 32 teams will receive first-round byes in the NCAA proposal. The remaining 64 teams would need to win seven games to win the NCAA title, not the current six.

And the tournament would remain in its current three-week time frame -- the extra games would be played in Week 2 of the 3-week tournament, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays -- so it's not like the tournament will suddenly be swollen by an extra week.

It would be harder to fill out a bracket with your friends -- picking 95 outcomes?! -- but that's all right.

And I believe the regular season would still mattter. There are now 347 teams playing Division I basketball -- even with 96 in the field, you're eliminating 251 of them right off the bat.

I do agree with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who says that the regular-season and conference champions from each conference should get an automatic berth in a 96-team field. That makes a lot of sense, and makes the season itself more meaningful.

Here's the counter-argument, expressed by ESPN analyst and Charlottean Jay Bilas in a Time magazine article (I love Jay, but disagree with him on this one): "I just think there aren't 96 good basketball teams," Bilas said. "And so what we're essentially saying is that we're going to allow 32 more teams who we think are just as good as the crummy teams that are in at the end of the line. That sounds harsh, but this ain't Little League, where everybody gets to play three innings and everyone gets a trophy and certificate of participation."

To me, it sounds like this is coming. And I hope while they're at it they disband the NIT -- it's such a meaningless tournament at this point, and most of the current NIT field would now make a 96-team NCAA tournament field anyway.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why fix something that's not broken? I think expanding the field beyond what it is today, is a stupid idea. It will completely water down the tournament. Having 3 or 4 teams from conferences like the CAA is just plain ridiculous. The best 4 days is sports is rounds one and two of the NCAAs as it is now, no need to ruin that tradition.

Julius Coxswain said...

Expanding the field to 96 participants will award teams for being mediocre. There is a reason why "bubble" teams don't make the NCAA tournament. If you don't like the level of play in the NIT, why would you want to move it into the Big Dance? It's nonsensical. There are 347 Division I basketball teams. In most years, taking the top 64 is for the best.

Anonymous said...

Don't like the idea of having nearly 100 teams playing in the tournament. Its one thing to go from 53 games to 64 like they did in '85. Thats only an 11 team difference. But we're talking about an extra 32 TEAMS here!

The first round would then be pointlist. It would be like watching a bunch of "play-in" games.

Anonymous said...

I believe ESPN is the proponent behind this. They are probably offering the NCAA a windfall to be the broadcast network but only if the tournament expands to 96 teams so that they can show games during the week instead of the NIT games they have been showing.

Anonymous said...

You're right. It would blow up the NIT, but that's okay. As you said, it's all about money. Money, money, money, money.

How many regionals would we have?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bilas.

Frank said...

Why bother with a regular season!!!Just let every team in the tournament.

james said...

This is suppose to be a tournament to CROWN the NATIONAL CHAMPION. Seriously do you honestly think the 96th team that makes the tournament actually has a chance of winning it all??!?!? this is just stupid!!

Anonymous said...

These comments are hilarious. Do you think Robert Morris has a chance to win in today's format? The watering down argument assumes the 64 in the tournament are the best 64. This way we get more upsets, more buzzer beaters, and more all or nothing games. If you don't like it, don't watch the first round games. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I'd support the expansion to 96 teams IF AND ONLY IF there would be a requirement that each team in the tournament would have to win at least 20 games vs Division 1 opponents during the regular season, no exceptions. Otherwise, leave it alone or reduce it to 32 teams.

The Equalizer said...

Hmmm...Fowler you have an illness which causes you to embrace stupid ideas.
This rates right up there with your idea that Michael Jordan should prop up Char-Meck libraries. Is everyone at the Observer a leftist loon?

hcg said...

Wow, nice post,there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.Thank you for sharing to us.Please one more post about that..

Carpet cleaning Sacramento said...

Outstanding post, you have pointed out some fantastic points. I besides believe this is a very fantastic website.

laser hair removal melbourne said...

Why fix something that's not broken? I think expanding the field beyond what it is today, is a stupid idea.