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February 10, 2010

NCAA Tournament Expansion

Typically the NCAA Tourney expansion talk is driven by coaches who are almost always on the bubble. They want expansion because going from 65-96 teams will add girth to the middle of the field...not the bottom.

The other reason is TV revenue. A 96 team tourney is too big for CBS to cover, and they would need help from ESPN to televise it all. Neither of those are good reasons for expansion to me.

But this piece by Andy Katz actually references an interesting point beyond self preservation and money.
Of course, I could be totally wrong, if the NCAA pushes through the idea that it already has 97 teams in the postseason (since it runs the 32-team NIT). The NIT television contract ends after this season, so that is still a curveball in these discussions. The NCAA could always do a bridge deal with the NIT and ESPN again to get it through the next round of negotiations for television partners in 2014 and beyond. (Emphasis added)
The NCAA acquired the NIT a few years ago. An argument could be made that the NCAA doesn't need a second class tourney when it could make its members much happier by rolling those same teams into the big dance.

Personally, I think it simply dilutes the quality of the flagship product, but it's an interesting take. Apply that logic to the bowls and a playoff. You could easily see the NCAA starting with a 4, then 8 and then 16 team play off and then saying...."Well, we already have a post season for 68 teams (34 bowls), why not expand the tournament to 32, 48 or 64 teams?"

It's the same argument as the NIT take above.



S.A.W.B. said...

The only change I've wanted to see with the tournament since they expanded to 65 with the play in game, is an expansion to 68. Let the 16 seeds just go ahead to the first round proper and their date with the 1 seeds.

Making those guys play one another on a Tuesday before the tournament begins is cruel and unusual, as one of them won't get to play in the madness that is the first Thursday or Friday of the tourney.

Instead, take the 'last four in' and the 'last four out' match them up, and let them fight it out for an 11 or 12 seed. I'd greatly prefer seeing if a hypothetical 19-11 Indiana wants in the tournament badly enough to knock off a 23-5 Horizon league also ran, than watching two teams that won their leagues run each other out of the tournament before it really begins.

mitch said...

Why expand the field to teams that wont win it all? That makes no sense at all. Its fine at 65 teams.

Chris S said...

IMHO, if the purpose of the post-season is to determine the best team in the country, the NCAA tournament is far more of a joke than the BCS. There's always a lot of argument about the BCS, but I can't think of a season in which the BCS winner wasn't one of the top two teams in the country. The NCAA tournament, on the other hand, frequently spits out a champion that's probably not among the top five teams in the land.

The irony is that basketball games are won by chance more than football games, and a single-elimination system is more likely to get the "right" outcome in football than in basketball.

If the NCAA wants to increase TV revenues, a better idea would be to reduce the field to 32 teams and make every match-up a three-game series.

Will said...

See, I see this argument from the NCAA as disingenuous because of the nature of the academic argument against a college football playoff. I continually hear how it would inconvenience football players at the D1A level to have to deal with a protracted playoff (we're talking 2 to three weeks), but the NCAA has no problem with expanding the NCAA tournament in basketball past its already 3 week time-frame with no mention of danger to D1A college players academics.

Just shows how little reality maters to these people. More money is all that's worth considering.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Aren't the conference tournaments sort of like the play in for the NCAA Big Dance?

Is there a conference without tournament?

RB Dawg said...

Unfortuantely, the point you make in this post is exactly why we may never see a playoff in football. I think the one legit argument against the plus-1 idea is the worry that it will eventually go from 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 teams, just as he basketball tournament has.

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