NCAA Tournament: What If There Were Two Big Dances?
With the NCAA Tournament set to begin this week, March Madness is once again back and in full force. The top 65 teams in the country are set to leave it all on the court in the quest for a National Championship.
Unlike college football, college basketball has done it right with their postseason. Every year there are Cinderellas and sleeper teams nobody expected. Let's face it, nothing beats it.
Talks seem to be heating up about the NCAA expanding the tournament to 96 teams. This move could and probably will be made in the next few years unless something drastic happens.
Expanding to 96 teams is not a bad idea. Currently only 18.7 percent of NCAA Division I teams make the NCAA Tournament. That is much fewer than all of the major professional sports. Needless to say, expansion is in the future.
I believe expansion is inevitable, but I do have one suggestion to allow more teams into the Big Dance. It's pretty simple: have two Big Dances.
Currently, there are 347 teams amassing 32 conferences in NCAA Division I basketball. The solution is simple. Divide that number in half, much like football, and have two 64-team tournaments completely separate from each other.
Here is how this could work.
Since there are 32 conferences I would take the top 16, which would include the power six conferences: Big East, Big Ten, ACC, SEC, PAC-10, and Big 12. That would be 73 teams and would make up roughly 40 percent of NCAA Division 1-A.
Next I would look at the best remaining conferences and pick from there. Those include the following leagues: Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Horizon, Mountain West, West Coast, WAC, and Missouri Valley. These seven conferences total 75 teams and make up 41 percent of NCAA Division I-A.
At this point there are 13 conferences and 147 teams. To balance it out, three more conferences would need to be chosen. While there are many contenders, I believe the Colonial, MAC, and Ohio Valley conferences are the most worthy.
An argument could be made for the Ivy League, but I believe these 16 conferences are the top 16 in America. These three conferences would make up the remaining 19 percent, rounding out NCAA Division I-A basketball.
These 16 conferences are made up of 179 teams, which is roughly half of the 347 now in Division I. The remaining 168 teams would be grouped in a Division I-AA.
As far as scheduling goes, Division I-A teams could still play I-AA teams in the regular season, but that number of games would be limited to five.
This would cut down on the cupcakes and raise the level of competition in the non-conference.
When tournament time comes, pick the best 64 teams from each division for the NCAA Tournaments.
While that seems like a lot to make the Big Dance, it is still only 37 percent of teams. But it is a more realistic and fair number.
Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love college basketball the way it is. This is only a suggestion, some food for thought.
What college basketball has right now is the most exciting and unique tournament in sports. There is no reason to change anything right now.
But if they did, wouldn't this be something to talk about. After all, aren't two shining moments better than one?
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