Earlier this month, the NCAA’s Transformation Committee championship subgroup put forth a proposal that championships should include at least 25% of Division I schools who participate in that sport. This could have implications in many sports, but here we will focus on men’s basketball. With over 360 schools playing D-1 basketball, the expansion to 25% would mean over 90 teams would be in the championship field.
We should first mention that this is only a proposal and is nowhere near a done deal. Last week, we looked at the positive elements that expansion could bring. In today’s second part of the series, we discuss the negative impacts this proposal would have on the NCAA Tournament.
The Cons of Expansion
Logistics of a Large Field | Sixty-eight teams has always felt like the right amount. Ninety-plus teams could be a logistical nightmare, but if that becomes a requirement, let’s face it: 96 teams would be the number that would work the best. A 96-team field would mean the top eight seeds in each region would get a first-round bye.
So, to get the field down to 64, a total of 32 games would have to be played. A lot of questions about the schedule would have to be settled. Do college hoops fans really want four days straight of games from noon to midnight? Even if many of the games involve teams who have no shot of winning the tournament? I’m not sure more is necessarily better.
Quality | The quality of bubble teams hasn’t improved over the last decade. In fact, it’s probably gotten worse. Is adding 30-plus teams to the tourney going to improve the overall experience? I think not.
What Really Drives Fan Interest? | Most fans who are reading this would watch the NCAA Tournament whether there were 20 teams or 100 teams in the field. But what really draws fans who normally have no interest in college basketball to the NCAA Tournament? And what brings them in front of their TVs and packs them into sports bars to watch two teams they have no rooting interest in?
I really feel the main reason is the number of people who fill out brackets. It’s always been my strong opinion that anything that makes filling out a bracket more difficult would vastly reduce the number of people who would be interested in the tourney. Filling out a 96-team bracket sounds like a torturous exercise that would drive people away. Even I may pass on that.
So there are the pros and cons. What’s my final take? Join me on Twitter @tkbrackets to discuss. I’d love to hear your opinion.
LAST FOUR IN: West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Memphis
FIRST FOUR OUT: Mississippi State, Michigan, Kentucky, Creighton
NEXT FOUR OUT: Northwestern, Wake Forest, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech
CONFERENCES WITH MULTIPLE BIDS
Big Ten: 10
Big 12: 8
Big East: 4