Defending March Madness Expansion? Beware a Huge Hole in the Argument

tre wellsCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  A general view during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Michigan State Spartans at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I don’t know quite yet if I am in favor of expanding the NCAA College Basketball Tournament beyond 65 teams. I don’t know if I want to tinker with something that has provided me so much joy over the years.

That being said, I am certainly open to the debate.

More tournament basketball could be like eating more hot wings. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

While I agree with elements of debate both for and against tournament expansion, I have to cringe when I hear one argument for those in favor of expansion.

It seems that those who want to expand the tournament point to college football, citing that over 60 teams, or right about half of teams in college football, get rewarded with a bowl game.

They then point out that only 65 basketball teams out of over 300 schools get into the tournament.

While that is true, it is only one tournament. Add the NIT and that’s another 32 teams, bringing the total to 97.

Not enough?

You have the College Basketball Invitational, operated by an independent marketing firm, which has a tournament for another 16 teams. The total now becomes 113.

Then there is the Postseason Tournament, which adds another 16 teams to the fray.

The total is now 129 teams that get into postseason play. That’s well over a third, and closing in on half the college teams.

Does winning the CBI get you a shot at the National Championship? Not at all. But neither does winning the Music City Bowl or the New Orleans Bowl.

Let’s keep the debate going about whether to expand the tournament. But let’s keep this argument out of it.