Sunday, March 14, 2010

Please don't expand to 96 (but perhaps expand the opening round)

There is talk of expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams (64+32=96), however, I think that such an expansion would be too big at the moment, considering the NCAA tournament is great as it currently is.

However, there are arguments made for giving more teams a chance, and selection committee screw-ups ruining student athletes dreams. So how about a compromise instead?

Expand the opening round instead! That's right. Instead of having Virginia Tech, Illinois, Mississippi State, UAB, etc whine and complain, have them play an opening-round game against the lowest ranked at-large teams on the S-curve?

So perhaps expand the opening round to four games (eight teams), but in the interest of fairness, ONLY include at-large/bubble teams in the opening round. ALL the automatic teams DESERVE to be in the field of 64!

And seating/seeding the teams is fairly simply - they already have an S-curve they use during the selection process - use their S-curve position as a placeholders in the brackets, that way all teams get a fair ranking (as fair as that could be).

With ESPN having so many channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN360 (renamed to ESPN3), U, Classic), they can easily televise every single one of those opening round games.

So in this year, for example, we could have these opening round games:
* UTEP vs Mississippi State
* Minnessooota vs UAB
* Utah State vs Illinois
* Florida vs Virginia Tech

That would be a good and low-risk first step. If that proves successful, then they could perhaps slowly increase it to five or six in future years...

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