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Headlines: Bracket Creep! Is 96 the new 65?

Brian: The internets were abuzz on Monday with rumors that the NCAA’s possible expansion of their basketball tournament from 65 teams to 96 teams was a "done deal":

The NCAA has its sights set on expanding from a 65-team tournament to either 68 or 96 teams if it opts out of the CBS contract, according to the 12-page RFP.

A 68-team field would add three "play-in" games to the current 65-team format, and a 96-team field would expand the tournament’s inventory by 31 games. [...]

The NCAA is considering whether to opt out of its 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS after the Final Four in April. The deal has three years and $2.131 billion remaining.

Then came word from Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman that expansion wasn’t a done deal after all, but that the NCAA is still considering expanding the postseason tournament. Complicating (or advancing, depending on how you look at it) said expansion plans is this little fact about the NIT:

The NCAA's deal with the 32-team NIT also expires at the end of this season and, according to sources, one of the possibilities is to end the agreement and take 31 of those teams and add them to the NCAA tournament field.

So if the NCAA decides to go down this route, poaching 31 NIT teams and creating an uber-NCAA sanctioned postseason tournament, are you in favor of this idea?

Jeff: I am certainly not opposed to eliminating the NIT Tournament. Is the best way to do that add 31 teams to the NCAA tournament? I'm not sure. Adding the 31 teams is not a bad idea because the top 32 teams - which is where the eventual champion would come from - would get an opening round bye and only need 6 wins for a national championship. But logistically, would adding the teams add another weekend to the tournament and drag it out too much? Would the extra games be played on campus or at predetermined neutral sites? I would certainly like this idea this year because BC would be very much alive as an NCAA tournament team instead of being far, far away from the field of 65 as they are now.

Brian: I like the 65 team format but have always thought it was silly that there was only one play-in game. Expanding to 68 teams seems like an easy decision, so long as strong mid-major candidates are selected over 17-15 Big East or SEC teams more often than not.

As for 96, I mean, ok? The NCAA Tournament seemed perfect when it was 64. I guess I don't mind 96 teams since it evens the number of teams in the tournament and doesn't make a mockery of the 64th and 65th teams having to play their way into the NCAA Tournament field.

Make no mistake about this move though. This move would be purely financially driven. The NCAA stands to gain 31 more games to the schedule, enhancing the revenues from a future TV deal (should CBS whiff on the next contract and say, ESPN comes in and scoops up the tournament). Also funny how the arguments against a NCAA football playoff - more time away from campus for the student-athlete, cheapening the regular season - are precisely the reasons why basketball wouldn't make this move. I guess the basketball powers that be, unlike football, see the potential revenue stream in expanding their postseason.

Your move, BCS.


Thoughts? Like an expanded, 96 team NCAA basketball tournament?