I’m sure there is a reason for it, but I’ve never known what that reason is.
LOL. Quora, which is a website where people ask questions and get answers, is full of just that question this week.
Basically, when they went from 65 to 68 teams in 2010, they decided that it was not fair to make the worst conference champs play in and not the worst at-large teams. In part that was because the play-in games usually include one or both of the HBCU conference champions, as they do this year. Sometimes the play-in game has dipped down to a 12 seed, but most often an 11. I think there have been a couple of years where one play-in game was 11s and one was 12s.
I’ve never understood 16 seeds having to play in to the tournament. Those are conference champions.
I’ve always thought the play-in games should be for the eight at-large teams that are closest to the bubble.
The play-in game is not entirely a bad thing. It still counts as an NCAA tournament win. UAPB has one NCAAT win in its history, a First Four win over Winthrop in 2010. Without that, they get drilled in the first round by Duke (which is what then happened) and go home with nothing. This way they got a win in the Dance and got to play twice.
I think they are doing it right now. The at large teams are the ones who should fill the play in shots. I’d make it two rounds of play-ins for Michigan State.
UCLA is even worse.
My preference would be a 64 team tourney and no “play in” or first four or whatever you want to call it. I realize that genie is now out of the bottle and she’s not going back in.
At some point they’ll expand the tournament to 72 or even 96 and a lot of teams will have a play-in game.
The bubble format this year reminds me a little of the old NAIA tournament format, which they didn’t drop until very recently: 32 teams, one site (KC Municipal Auditorium) in one week. Five games in a week is a brutal schedule but everyone had to do it. This is more teams, more sites and not quite as brutal, but it’s still everyone in one city.
I remember Henderson’s Kansas City run in the 70’s which included a win over Jack Sikma’s team from Illinois.
They expanded the field due to conference re-alignments.
The Mountain West Conference (created in 1999) caused the move from 64 to 65 teams in ‘01. It made sense to expand because there weren’t all that many more teams available, but one less at-large spot because of a new automatic qualifier.
Then at the end of the ‘00s, the Big East began their discussions about splitting. That would create another new conference with an automatic qualifier, eliminating another at-large spot. Even though that split didn’t happen officially til 2013, Committee decided to move to four play-in games (one in each region) in 2011.
You could theoretically add two more automatic qualifier by creating two more conferences, then the at-large spots would be equivalent to what they were from ‘85 - ‘00.
I don’t have a problem with the current format where the 4 lowest overall seeds play in 2 play-in games, while the 4 lowest at-large play in the other 2 play-ins.
If they expand it to 72 or especially 96, can we even call them “play-in” games. Sounds like it’s just the first round with other teams getting a bye. Like it was back in the 70’s when there were 50-something teams.
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