NCAA Tournament Expansion to 96 Teams?

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By: David Kay

First and foremost, let me just say that I am vehemently against expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams. I am one-hundred percent part of the camp who argues, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why would you want to water down the exclusivity of the field by adding 31 teams who barely deserve to be in the NIT let alone the Big Dance?

With that being said, it appears more and more imminent that the NCAA will indeed expand the tournament field. Plenty of questions arise about how the format would work, when and where the extra games would play, and how the committee would determine new rules as for which teams get automatic bids.

Me being the massive college basketball nerd and obsessive bracketologist that I am couldn’t help but try to figure how the 2010 NCAA Tournament brackets would look if the field would have been expanded to 96 teams this season. So basing my bracketology off the actual tournament seedings; I formulated my very own 96-team bracketology.

Here are some guidelines I took into account:
-If you won your conference regular season, you received an automatic bid. For example, Kent State finished with the best record in the MAC during conference play but lost in the conference tournament and did not qualify for the 65-team field. In the expanded format, Kent State is in. I am not particularly fond of this rule because then teams who win the regular season title would not have that feeling of a must-win tournament situation in the post-season, and might not play with the same “do or die” mentality.  Although I do like this rule because it makes the regular season much more significant and rewards those teams who played well for 18 games and just so happened to have an off-night in their conference tourney.

-The field is expanded by giving byes to the 1-8 seeds in each regional matching up the 9-24 seeds into a “play-in” type of game. One idea I have is adopting an NFL playoff type format where you re-seed after the “play-in” games so the #1 seed faces the lowest seed to win in that specific region, etc. The problem I have with this idea is how it would affect the scouting and preparation for the teams especially if there is only one day off in between games.

-That segues perfectly into when these games would be played. Does the NCAA keep the current schedule and play the first three rounds on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and Wednesday/Friday/Sunday? The other possibility is adding another weekend to give teams more rest and more preparation time since 32 teams would be playing just two days after Selection Sunday. (See, these are the type of topics I think about in spare time. Insert huge nerd joke here.) Three games in five days seem like too much in my opinion especially for the “student-athlete.”

-I am going to assume these “play-in” games will be held at the same neutral site of the original opening round games. This prevents teams from having to travel from their “play-in” to the first round game in a short period. The major problem I see with this is filling certain venues. If you are a fan of say St. Mary’s, who could possibly play their three games in Providence, are you really going to suddenly plan to take a week off and fly to Rhode Island to hope your team plays in three games? This is another burning issue for me that the NCAA would have to figure out before giving the 96-team go-ahead.

Okay, here it is, The Field of 96. Since I do not have a 96-team bracket template to use, please bare with me if this looks sloppy.

MIDWEST REGIONAL-ST. LOUIS
OKLAHOMA CITY
1 Kansas
16 Dayton/17 Tulsa

8 UNLV
9 Northern Iowa/24 Winthrop

SPOKANE
5 Michigan State
12 Mississippi State/21 Montana

4 Maryland
13 New Mexico State/20 Kent State

PROVIDENCE
6 Tennessee
11 San Diego State/22 Morgan State

3 Georgetown
14 Rhode Island/19 Marshall

MILWAUKEE
7 Oklahoma State
10 Georgia Tech/23 Stoney Brook

2 Ohio State
15 Seton Hall/18 Nevada

WEST REGIONAL-SALT LAKE CITY
BUFFALO
1 Syracuse
16 William & Mary/17 St. Louis

8 Gonzaga
9 Florida State/24 Campbell

SAN JOSE
5 Butler
12 UTEP/21 Weber State

4 Vanderbilt
13 Illinois/20 Ohio

MILWAUKEE

6 Xavier
11 Minnesota/22 Vermont

3 Pitt
14 Murray State/19 Arizona

OKLAHOMA CITY

7 BYU
10 Florida/23 Jackson State

2 Kansas State
15 Arizona State/18 Cincinnati

EAST REGIONAL-SYRACUSE

NEW ORLEANS
1 Kentucky
16 Wichita State/17 UConn

8 Texas
9 Wake Forest/24 East Tennessee State

JACKSONVILLE
5 Temple
12 Cornell/21 Coastal Carolina

4 Wisconsin
13 Virginia Tech/20 Sam Houston State

SAN JOSE

6 Marquette
11 Washington/22 UC-Santa Barbara

3 New Mexico
14 Memphis/19 Portland

BUFFALO
7 Clemson
10 Missouri/23 Lehigh

2 West Virginia
15 Wofford/18 Charlotte

SOUTH REGIONAL-HOUSTON

JACKSONVILLE
1 Duke
16 South Florida/17 VCU

8 California
9 Louisville/24 Arkansas-Pine Bluff

SPOKANE
5 Texas A&M
12 Utah State/21 Morehead State

4 Purdue
13 Siena/20 Oakland

NEW ORLEANS
6 Notre Dame
11 Old Dominion/22 North Texas

3 Baylor
14 Ole Miss/19 Houston

PROVIDENCE
7 Richmond
10. St. Mary’s/23 Robert Morris

2 Villanova
15 UAB/18 Northwestern

LAST FOUR IN:
Arizona
Marshall
Portland
Morehead State

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Northeastern
Louisiana Tech
Illinois State
Princeton

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWNS:

Big East: 12
ACC, Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big 10: 7
CUSA, SEC: 6
Mountain West, Pac-10: 4
CAA, WAC, WCC: 3
AEC, A-Sun, Big Sky, Big South, MAC, MVC, OVC, Southern: 2
Big West, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MEAC, NEC, Patroit, Summit, Sun Belt: 1

Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    wowwww there are some crappy teams in this field. no doubt. At least 1.) NU will finally get in, ending the infamous drought, although getting in this way is cheapr

    2.) at least this ends the NIT CBI CBE limbo crapola, there’s no middle gournd now. more closure as no one cares to make a case for the 97-100 teams

    but overall, I’m with you, 64 is an absolute perfect #. and we don’t need expansion. this is sort of horseshit noe

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