Monday, March 22, 2010

Expanding The NCAA Basketball Tournament

We are right in the middle of March Madness and there has been a big buzz going around regarding the possible expansion of the field from 65 to 72, 80 or even 96 teams. The two things that would need to be improved upon from such an expansion before I'd support such a move, would be that an expansion is necessary based on "fairness" and that an expansion is necessary due to the potential for the NCAA to make a lot more money.

Now, I am by no means an NCAA financial expert, so I will stick to tackling the fairness issue. An expansion of the tournament would help the so called "bubble" teams get into the tournament, but would of course create a different class of "bubble" teams. The highest seed I could imagine a "bubble" team being, if they were to replace the 65th seeded team would probably be around a 12th or 13th seed. No 12th or 13th seeded team has ever made the final four, so I don't believe we are missing out on a potential National Champion by not expanding the field.

I believe we already have expansion, and it is called the conference tournaments that pretty much each and every conference plays at the end of the regular season. The conference tournament in effect, is already an expansion of the field of 65 teams. The conference tournaments can be thought of as "play in" games for the bubble teams and the teams that have no shot at making the field of 65 based off of merit.

In conclusion, I don't believe that the NCAA Basketball Tournament should be expanded beyond the 65 (not sure why we even have a play-in game) that currently make up the field of teams. There is not a fairness issue that would be solved and with the conference tournaments, we already have a quasi-expanded field.

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