NCAA Basketball Tournament: 65 or 96 Teams?

Eric AdamsContributor IDecember 8, 2009

WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 06:  UCLA Bruins cheerleaders perform before the game with the Kansas Jayhawks on December 6, 2009 at Pauley Pavillion in Westwood, California.  Kansas won 73-61.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When problems with the BCS are discussed, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is always used as an example of how champions should be decided.

I stumbled across a really interesting article today. The general concept?

"The NCAA has started meeting with broadcasters to explore the media value of expanding the men’s basketball tournament field."

When I first saw the headline, I thought it was a blogger trying to make up their own story.

I quickly found out that the article had been posted online by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal (Read full article here).

It's an extremely established an well-informed publication.

Here are a few of the interesting quotes and highlights from the piece:

  • The idea talked about with TV networks would likely take the tournament from its current field of 65 teams to 96 teams and add another week to the competition, with the top 32 teams receiving byes. The move has been characterized as folding the NIT into the NCAA tournament.
  • Discussions are being characterized as preliminary, but they shed a light on the NCAA’s thinking as it decides whether to exercise an escape clause in its 11-year $6 billion deal with CBS, the NCAA’s longtime partner.
  • The NCAA clearly expects that the added week of games would significantly increase the tournament’s rights fee.
  • The study of an expanded tournament is simply part of the analysis, sources said, and there’s no certainty that the NCAA will go in that direction.

As of now, every single team in the country has a chance to win the national title.

They simply have to win their conference tournament, and they're in the Big Dance.

Why do we need to open up more slots? Who gets the advantage here?

Likely, the spots would be filled with solid mid-majors and marginal power conference teams.

All of these schools have the opportunity to easily make the field of 64.

We don't need a Big 10 school with a .500 conference record in the tournament. Sorry.

Let's be honest, a lot of mediocre teams didn't deserve to be in the field last year.

But if you expand the field to let them in, you're giving a team a shot to catch fire and make a run.

That seems to significantly water down the regular season.

There's another problem with competitive advantage.

I am a huge believer in momentum.

If the 32 top teams are given a bye, they'll be waiting while their opponent just finished an emotional tournament game.

It's amazing how the NCAA has such opposing logic when dealing with two sports.

In football, teams are literally blocked from any shot at the crown.

There is no playoff, and they actually created a BCS Web site to explain why one is a bad idea: Playoff Problem.

In basketball, they may be opening the doors even wider to let an absurd amount of teams in.

Don't get me wrong; in the end, I'll never complain about more March Madness.

It just seems like a money grab from the NCAA, rather than trying to make things better.


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