With the NCAA Men's Tournament Likely Expanding, What's the NCAA Thinking?

Brad MillerContributor IApril 2, 2010

HOUSTON - MARCH 28:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils after a 78-71 win against the Baylor Bears during the south regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Reliant Stadium on March 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Apparently, the NCAA's decision to expand their March postseason "Dance" bracket to 96 teams is a serious possibility. 

You have got to be kidding me. 

From their announcement, the NCAA committee didn't want to commit to the idea officially yet, but obviously it seems that they want it to pass. 

In my opinion, this is a disaster and I'll tell you why this is the case. Prefacing this barrage of banter, I know that money talks and an expansion would bring in more money for all involved, but is it enough to warrant expansion?

As the tournament is now, we obviously have a field of 65 (as a side note, this play-in game is done wrong as well, but I'll get to that later) that is played over three weekends in the months of March and April. 

The system currently gives an automatic bid for the conference champion which is great, along with 20+ at-large bids going to a pool of both decent and mediocre teams to fill out the field. 

Some of the mediocre teams that receive an at-large bidded schools even have a losing record in their conference, but are still getting in. 

Why?  Because apparently having a .500 record in competitive conferences such as the the Big East warrants a trip to play an elite groups of teams in the postseason. 

The current system is rewarding mediocre teams that barely win half of their conference games, but play a weak non-conferencein schedule that pads their win totals. Should these teams really be rewarded? Count me among those that aren't impressed.

If you are a team that waffles in and out of the top 25 during the season, chances are you are legit enough to make it to the tournament. If you are among the top seven percent of the Division one basketball programs (there are 347 teams, in case you are wondering), you should have the potential to do some damage. 

For the remaining "bubble teams" do they REALLY have a chance to go deep into the tournament?  I realize that there have been some 12 seeds that have made it to the Sweet 16 and maybe beyond, but most were their conference's champion and they were not a "bubble team". 

So we are going to water down an already watered-down tournament, so that we can skip work on that first Thursday afternoon to watch a one seed demolish a team that may or may not have been called to the NIT?  Woohoo! 

I'm making an obvious statement here, but with this possible expansion we will be adding CLOSE to .500 overall team record college programs that have done nothing special to get where they are at. 

Where are you going to get 31 MORE teams to include in this "win-it-all" tournament?

Sure, you could throw in Virgina Tech and Illinois into this year's bracket, but then who?  Whoever you put in your mind as a possible candidate, you would really have to ask yourself "Could they win it all or come close?" and your logical answer should be "NO".

We can think of all the mid-major successes that we have had this year and decide that they are great for the tournament. If we would have had the expansion this year, we might not have seen the UNI Panthers do the unthinkable by defeeating top-seeded Kansas.

My last reason not to expand is a lame one, but none the less... how are you going to fit 96 teams on a piece of paper for brackets office picks? 

There is not much more room in that bracket to fit another 31 teams. I'm getting a headache just thinking about looking at that sheet!

If the NCAA felt "compelled" to expand the tournament, maybe they should consider this alternative:  how about four play-in games that could be placed in competitive spots throughout each region? 

For instance, each region could have a play-in game, which would add seven more teams to the tournament.  Usually, that is the number of "bubble teams" each year anyway. Essentially, they would be adding fluff to the tournament.  

The key would be to place these games so that a true bubble team would play another another counterpart, not a weaker conference champion vs. another. 

Make it a game that we would actually like to WATCH to see who got in. Taking this year for example, again, Illinois could play a Virgina Tech for the opportunity to get into the tournament. 

In my opinion, the public would get behind that idea and watch that. Then, the winner can play a two or three seed in each region.  The one seed can still have their token, weak 16th seed to feed on and under this system,  we can now watch a competitive, hungry play-in team play against a worthy higher seed. 

These are just ideas folks, that should warrant some thought on this wretched idea of expansion. 

I think we can all agree that in the ideal scenario, the NCAA should look to enhance the tournament and not water it down.