Could expand March Madness to somewhere around 90 teams in the not-too-distant future. That would be consistent with an existing policy to open NCAA play up to the top 25 percent of all eligible teams. For example, the regionals in NCAA golf invite 27 percent of the eligible teams for both men and women, then cut it down to 30 teams for the men and 27 teams for the women for the national tournament. (It probably should be 30 for both but that’s another topic entirely).
There are 363 eligible men’s teams in D-I this year, so 25 percent would be 91. Divisible by 4, 92. Or just go ahead and bump it up to 96, which simplifies the math.
It wouldn’t be that difficult to do actually. With a 96 team field, you could have 32 games on Tuesday and Wednesday, distributed across all eight pod sites instead of the First Four in Dayton, and 32 teams would get byes into the Thursday-Friday round. If you’re a 1-8 seed, you get a bye. Everybody below that starts early. If that’s too tight a schedule, the COVID tournament in Indy was able to move away from the strict Thursday-Saturday/Friday-Sunday schedule without significant problems. Maybe the first weekend games could be Thursday-Saturday-Monday and Friday-Sunday-Tuesday.
A fix for a problem that doesn’t exist? Maybe, maybe not. Why should 81 golf teams get in but only 68 hoops teams? And there have been teams get to the Final Four from the First Four, including UCLA two years ago, so it didn’t hamper them competitively, I’d say. First Four hasn’t ruined the Big Dance, in any event.
Terrible idea. The NCAA Tournament is the one thing the NCAA has done right. It still takes a really good season to get in (mostly), but once you are in the field, anything can happen. I was all for expanding the CFP, but leave the NCAA Tourney alone. It is as close to the perfect sporting event as we have.
I hate it when a mid major goes 26-3 and one of losses is in their tournament and they are out. I can’t cite a specific example or the exact record. But I have no objection to adding a few more New Mexico States and Bradleys and Bucknells.
I think a more modest increase to to 72 would be more doable, opening up another pair of play-in games for the 16 and 11 seeds. That would produce little extra TV money but would stop this silliness of some 11s and 16 getting a “bye” into the round of 64. It would also let the NCAA find out with whether another city will provide the same good local support Dayton gets every year for the play-in games.
The problem I see is that these games are too much of a marginally good thing. Right now you have two games on Tuesday and Wednesday that are shunted off to the lowest tier cable network in the broadcast group. I don’t think viewership is very high for those games, they are just tidbits that hard core basketball fans and some gamblers looking for mid-week action watch while waiting for Thursday.
If you go from four games to sixteen games in that two game stretch, it’s really unlikely that viewership is going to triple or double what they are getting now on Tuesday-Wednesday. There is no chance of a big upset in any of these games, which will hurt ratings, and many of the games will have the feel of mid-major/small tournament conference finals or quarter final games in Power conference tournaments-those can be a lot of fun to watch but don’t draw big numbers of viewers.
You’d also need four networks and/or streaming services to keep all the games at night. CBS might not be that wild about showing mid-majors/ small conference champions in prime time on Tuesday/Wednesday.
If some of the games get played during the day, those games are really at risk of poor ratings- it’s asking a lot to get people to watch two fifteen seeds play a mid-afternoon game.
It’s still the top 25 percent, meaning 75 percent are left out (68 is the top 19 percent roughly). Okay, 96 teams would be 27 percent. There’s still urgency to stay in that upper range. It’s not like you’re gonna get an at-large at 16-16.
I don’t know if they’re going to do it but the NCAA transformation committee is considering making that recommendation. Then the basketball committee would have to make the final decision IIRC. Before yesterday I had not heard that the NCAA had a general policy of 25 percent of teams into postseason play; that does make a difference in my thinking. Why is hoops the exception?
I just looked at the final Kenpom ratings for last season. New Mexico State was #80 and they gave us ALL we wanted. Vermont was #54. Ditto. The year before, ORU was #125 and made the Sweet 16. Would it really screw the tournament up to let a few more teams like that get in without winning their conference tournaments? I don’t think so, and I think CBS and Turner would be happy to show 28 more games the first week. And if they didn’t, ESPN would.
You make valid points. But surely we will have teams that are 14-17, 15-15, in the field as well. Canon fodder for the top seeds. The product will be watered down and game play will go down. I have no interest watching Morehead State getting blown out by Kentucky or Duke.
That’s pretty much what Tuesday and Wednesday would be under this format.
Yeah some Power 6 bubble teams like A&M and OU last year would get in. But so would some deserving midmajors, the ones who are shunted off to the NIT now (I’m guessing the NIT goes away under this plan).
I looked up the 2022 NIT field. Here are the teams (with records) who won their conference regular season, lost in the conference tournament and wound up in the NIT: