Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More expansion talk - Is it a done deal?

In December, I blogged about possible expansion in the NCAA Tournament. On Monday, some sources were reporting that expansion is a "Done Deal". I personally think it is a bad idea. The tournament is perfect the way it is. I understand why they went to 65 teams, but no one even watches the "play-in" game. 64 teams is the perfect number.

Expanding the tournament adds logistic problems. If the tournament expands to 96 teams, either there will need to be games played on Tuesday and Wednesday or an additional week will need to be added to the tournament. If games are played on Tuesday or Wednesday, that will present problems if the bracket is announced on Sunday night. I don't think it is enough time for teams and fans to make plans to travel to the sights and the attendance at those games will be awful.

If an extra week is added, then to get to 64 teams, you would have 32 teams with byes have an entire week off. In addition, it would add an extra week to the season either on the front end or the back end. If it is on the back end, the season would not end until mid April. March Madness would be a thing of the past. April Anxiety anyone? If it is added on the front end, conference games would need to begin in mid-December and the season would need to start around November 1. I don't know about you, but I like most college fans are thinking about college football at that time.

In the current format, top seeds have almost always advanced beyond the first round. No #1 seeds have ever been defeated in the first round and only 4 #2 seeds have lost. If the field is expanded, expect this to change. These high seeds will be facing much stiffer competition on a neutral court with the other team having already played a tournament game. When the field was 48 teams, many top seeds lost in the second round after they had first round byes.

Whether this is inevitable or not remains to be seen, but here are some others thoughts about expansion:
  • Andy Katz on Expansion - He states that there are many involved in this decision and it is not a done deal. The NCAA has a right to opt out of CBS's contract which has 3 years left and has asked others what they would be interested in if they expanded. He also talks about how the power conference tournaments would become meaningless with a 96-team tournament.
  • Lindsey Willhite says "Not so fast". He like many others believe it is a bad idea.
  • Jeff Goodman states that the NCAA is still looking at expansion, but no decision has been made.
  • Steve Wieberg shares the opinion of college administrators and coaches.
  • Ryan Terpstra wonders what else NCAA would like to ruin.
And once again when the tournament expands, the Onion will have coverage.

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