FanDuel - WFBC

January 21, 2010

NCAA May Expand March Madness to 96 Teams: The NCAA is considering a plan to expand the basketball tournament from 65 to 96 teams, giving the top 32 teams a first-round bye and lengthening the tournament by a week. "This is the worst idea in the history of ideas," writes Tracee Hamilton. One proponent of the idea is Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I think it would upgrade everything," he said. "You still have your conference tournaments, and if you win that, you're in."

posted by rcade to basketball at 10:06 AM - 24 comments

Heck, if they're gonna do that, why not just say everybody's in and expand the tournament by a month?

posted by NerfballPro at 10:20 AM on January 21

I thought it was 4,096.

posted by smithnyiu at 10:33 AM on January 21

This is just a big money grab, right? There is no other real purpose to this other than to line somebody's pockets. I can't see how this benefits the tournament in any way. It's one of the best systems in sports to determine a champion, so obviously it needs to be revamped.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:55 AM on January 21

Instead of expanding the NCAA tourny why not have the winner of the NIT and the NCAA play each other for the National title. That way you are basically expanding the NCAA tourney to include more teams with out expanding the schedule. The 2 current tournaments are usually played at the same time anyway.

posted by twgibsr at 11:01 AM on January 21

You could use the NIT and the NCAA combined to do this without expanding the season. You could devide all the teams that would be invited to the 2 tournaments evenly between the two. Instead of the top 64 going into the NCAA and the others that go into the NIT. NCAA tourny would take the number 1 ranked team and NIT number 2 ranked team and so on down the line. would be more like the playoffs in the Pros. With NIT being one conference and NCAA being the other conference and the two winners playing eachother for National Title.

posted by twgibsr at 11:10 AM on January 21

why not have the winner of the NIT and the NCAA play each other for the National title

The problem with that idea is that the national title game is already a true national title game, with no challenges to its legitimacy. It's not like the bowl series, where you can have multiple undefeated teams, some from mid-majors, claiming top status. By definition, in this type of an inclusive tournament, only one team can ever emerge undefeated. After the NCAA tourney, it wouldn't add any legitimacy to have the champ go on to play the seventh place finisher from the Big 10 who happened to knock off the eighth place finisher from the Big East to win the NIT.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:12 AM on January 21

Posted before your clarification, of course!

posted by tahoemoj at 11:15 AM on January 21

The NIT has such a bad reputation these days that fans will chant "NIT" to an opposing team when it's losing a game that will cost it a chance to make the NCAA tournament. I see no benefit at all to splitting the "brand" of the postseason tournament into NCAA and NIT divisions, even if it expands to 96 teams.

posted by rcade at 11:25 AM on January 21

Put the extra week on the back end of the NCAA for the sake of the mental health of network execs, so they won't have to grapple with the devastating possibility of broadcasting a Tiger-less Masters tournament.

posted by beaverboard at 11:27 AM on January 21

As it is, making the NCAA tournament still requires some level of accomplishment. You don't have to be awesome, but you have to be a step or two above mediocre. I don't like the idea of expanding the tournament and cheapening the accomplishment of making it, because it will just reward mediocrity.

posted by TheQatarian at 11:38 AM on January 21

The NCAA can expand the basketball tournament to 96 teams but they can't figure out an 8 team football tournament?

WTF NCAA?

posted by cjets at 11:57 AM on January 21

Point taken, Qatarian, but couldn't you have made the same comment when it expanded from 32 teams to 64?

posted by rcade at 12:23 PM on January 21

Madness indeed.

posted by mjkredliner at 12:46 PM on January 21

I don't know how many conferences there were in 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, but today with 34 conferences, it's clearly a necessity. I really hope this field doesn't get expanded further. To be honest, I don't like the fact that most conference tournaments involve every team in the conference, effectively rendering the regular season meaningless. I realize that that last point may just be me, but I am not in favor of making any further changes that--as TheQatarian says--reward mediocrity.

The bottom line is that there are not 31 more teams that need to get into the tournament every season. At the moment, there's usually a cogent argument that 3 or 4 teams that didn't get in might be more deserving than 3 or 4 that did, althought to be honest, if they cut the tournament by 10 teams (or if you expand by 31), there will be the same argument of a few teams right at the cut line. If you can't win your conference or (if you are in a major conference) exhibit over the course of the season that you are one of the top 40 teams in the country, then that's all I need to know. Better luck next year.

I wouldn't mind seeing the selection process tweaked a bit to give the second best team from some of the better "1-bid" conferences a nod more often over the ninth best team from the Big East, but you don't need to add more teams to the field to do this.

posted by bender at 12:50 PM on January 21

You mean I may again get to see my Rider ('86) Broncs in the tournament (and again get squashed) before I die?

posted by jjzucal at 01:01 PM on January 21

rcade: I wasn't paying any attention to college basketball back when the expansion to 64 teams happened, so it's hard for me to have any sort of reference. That being said, if you look at the records of the at-large teams making the tournament (and I'm just going from memory here), they either have to win about 60% of their games with a tough schedule, or about two-thirds of their games with an average schedule. Again, not awesome, but respectable. If you expand to 96 teams, you'll end up with a lot of teams closer to .500 in the tournament, and making the tournament doesn't seem like as much of an accomplishment.

64 (or 65, whatever) seems like a good number to me. At this point, if it were 32, you'd either have practically no at-large teams, or you'd have to ditch the small conferences, which I would totally disagree with; I like the fact that every D-I college basketball team in the country goes into the year with a chance to win the national championship, as opposed to football where teams like Boise State have no chance no matter how good they are.

posted by TheQatarian at 01:03 PM on January 21

NOOOOOOO! I've just achieved some semblance of order in my mind of the 64 team field last year. Before that I had to write EVERYTHING down. On a purely selfish level, please don't.

posted by yzelda4045 at 01:48 PM on January 21

I believe it went from 32 to 40 to 48 and 64 and 65. I could accept 72 with eight first-round games on Tuesday night (15 v. 18, 16 v. 17 in each region) to enter the round of 64.

posted by jjzucal at 03:01 PM on January 21

Fans: This is Madness! NCAA: Madness? THIS... IS.... NCAA!

*NCAA kicks fans into bottomless pit*

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:31 PM on January 21

I believe it went from 32 to 40 to 48 and 64 and 65. I could accept 72 with eight first-round games on Tuesday night (15 v. 18, 16 v. 17 in each region) to enter the round of 64.

I already hate the 65 idea as it is. All that really does is deny one of the non-major conference small schools a chance to play in the tournament so that another big major conference school can get an at large bid. The system should be left just as it is, if they do not go back to the 64 team system.

posted by Demophon at 04:50 PM on January 21

65? There are 65 teams? Arrggh!

posted by yzelda4045 at 05:17 PM on January 21

Great. Now I need to buy one of those large format printers to print this new gigantic bracket

posted by mikemacman at 09:03 PM on January 21

One thing I'd like about a larger tourney would be that every team would have a reasonable chance to win at least one game. As it is, a #16 seed beating a #1 is literally unheard of. Although I think 96 is probably too large--I'd go with 72 or 80. These would give #18 vs. #15, or #20 vs. #13, respectively, as the largest seed differentials in the first round, which are certainly winnable for the lower seed. 96 teams would have a #24 vs. #9 in the first round, which may be stretching it.

65 teams is just absurd, when you look at it as a 7-round tournament where only two teams play the first round and 63 teams get a first-round bye.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:24 AM on January 22

Why is the NCAA tinkering with basketball? They should be working on how to have a real National Champion for football.

posted by dbt302 at 12:13 PM on January 22

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