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Should the NCAA Tournament expand?

Old joke: a reporter and editor are stranded in the desert. They're dying of thirst, exposure, etc. Finally they come to an oasis with a sparkling pool of water.

The reporter drops to his hands and knees and begins drinking greedily. But when he looks up, he's horrified to see the editor urinating in the water.

"What in God's name are you doing?!" he yells.

"Making it better," replies the editor.

Which brings us to today's question, bar-flies: Should they really be messing with the NCAA men's basketball tournament?

Isn't this about the most perfect post-season tournament around? But now there's talk that the NCAA wants to expand the field from 65 to 96 teams, generating even more millions of dollars for themselves and whatever network gets to cover the tourney.

What's prompting all this is that the NCAA's contract with CBS is over after this year's Final Four. And a new TV deal with an expanded field has college sports governing body seeing green and thinking: ka-ching!

But does anyone really want to see the top 32 seeds getting a bye and the tournament dragging on for another week? And wouldn't expansion cheapen the value of the regular season even more, with so many lesser teams now able to make the tourney?

Or do you think expansion would just double the excitement and that we here at Connolly's should just shut up and stick to pouring drinks?

If so, you just might make a great editor.

Daily Think Special: Should the NCAA Tournament expand?


I say if you go to 96, open it up to all Div 1 teams (300+). Going from 65 to 256 adds one weekend - which you would need to add just to go to 96. The extra play-in games can be played on the Wed/Thurs before the extra weekend. All-in-all it means only 1 team will have won their last game of the season - pretty cool. It means a team would need to win 8 or 9 games in a row instead of 6 or 7 (currently). Not a huge deal. And, it elimates the bubble talk for the months leading up to the tourney. I could even go for any team with an above .500 record is in - variable number of teams each year, but only one extra weekend of play.

Absolutely not! The expansion under discussion would render the regular season completely worthless. There also likely would be far fewer upsets in the early rounds and those possible upsets are one of the things that make this tournament great!

This is a terrible idea by the NCAA and like you said, why mess with the best post-season around. The only positive about this is that maybe my Nittany Lions would actually have a shot of getting to the dance!

Heck and No. They lower bubble teams that are going to make it are weak enough this year... if the tournament expands to 96... there are going to be 30 more undeserving teams in the dance. Teams that will be barely at 500 in the power conferences and mid/lower majors with barely 20 wins. No thanks!

Everyone always talks about last 4 teams in and last 4 teams out. I think it's a no brainer then to have a play in game for all 4 regions. It will make that first night of the tournament (Tuesday) a little more exciting. Expand to 68 teams and that's it, no more expansion!

I've always felt that expanding would just make it even tougher for the smaller schools to have any success. Think about Coppin and MSM in the play in game a year or so back. Wasn't it a shame that both schools couldn't be in on the excitement of the Thursday games? A sixteen has never beaten a one as it is. Now they want to bloody 'em up a bit before they even get their chance.
I'd just as soon have an open tourney. Make it like the FA cup or something.

I like 96 teams.

You don't need an extra week, though. The bottom 64 teams will all play over two days leading into the first weekend. Re-seeding after the first game will keep the 16 remaining teams in each bracket in numeric order. Simple!

No way. Tournament is perfect as it is. Leave it alone. Any more teams would just weaken the field.

poor idea, the 16 seeds
are usually blown out right

adding more bubble teams
just waters down the 64
in the tournament.....

only thing i could suggest
is get the nit tournament
winner a bid if it isn't too
late to get them in the

this way you have something
to play for in the nit....

Expanding to 96 teams is a bad idea. Shorefan is on the right track, but the play-in games should be between at-large teams, not the auto-qualifiers from small conferences. Expand to 68 teams, have the last 8 at-large teams play a first round game with the winner getting the 12 seed in each bracket. The 13 seeds are pretty much always automatic bids as it is so it shouldn't really change the seeding for any of them, other than pushing everybody back up one place by not having two automatic qualifiers playing for the right to face against a #1 seed.

Let's face it - the line has to be drawn someplace. If your team is arguing about whether or not you did enough to "earn" one of those last spots then you really didn't do what you needed to do during the full regular season. The seventh place team from one of the power conferences not making the field is a far cry different from the Terps not making it in 1974 when they had the #4 ranked team in the country.

But please, don't add a whole extra week and expand to 96 teams.

Doesn't anyone care what this would do to March Madness office pools? Have some mecry on the guy in accounting who has to keep track of this for everybody! 64 teams barely fit on the sheet as it is. Go to 96 and we'll have to start printing on legal size.

But seriously, why do we always have to ruin something good by making it bigger, longer, and more diluted. I suppose somebody will pay to watch Awful Little College get mauled by Enormous State University, but should they? Leave well enough alone!

Leave it the way it is. I think what really needs to change is the way teams make the tournament or are "selected." All of the bubble talk and the annual "why didn't this team make it as opposed to this team" talk is annoying. I think a way to solve this problem would be to take the finalists from each conference tournament game and give them automatic entry into the NCAA tournament. The winner of the conference gets the higher seeds (1-8) while the loser gets the lower seeds (9-16). Looking at the list of conferences on Yahoo, and if my math is correct, there are 32 Division I conferences. So, by taking the top two finishers in each conference tournament, you still wind up with 64 teams. This would in turn make all of the conference tournaments meaningful again because a team would have to play and continuously win to get in. It would also feature an equal number of small schools from smaller conferences and big schools from the bigger conferences, as well as the schools that are in the mid conferences. The downside is that it is an enormous amount of pressure for the players and coaches to keep winning, but it would definitely keep up the "March Madness where anything can happen" mantra. Another drawback would be that it makes the Top 25 polls kind of meaningless. The polls could still be used as a way to gauge where to seed certain teams come tournament time if they're in the tournament as well as finished as a Top 25 team.

Here is how ridiculous things would be if the tournament gets expanded:

NO WAY to expansion. First, a 96-team field will almost certainly end the historic, fun, NIT tournament, which actually helps some of these smaller programs by giving them 2 or 3 nationally televised games (no competition for ratings with the NCAAs). The NCAA tourney is already the most democratic competition in America. Win your Conf tourney, and you have a shot at the national title. Period. And every year we debate about 30+ at-large teams. Do you really think adding more will resolve the debate? Of course not. What we need, just like in football, is to create more incentives for teams to play tough regular season schedules. Just like expanding the BCS to 10 has done nothing to resolve controversey, allowing 96 teams will also solve nothing.

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