SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Should the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Have 96 Teams in It?

Good article in December from the Wall Street Journal.

I agree with Northwestern's Bill Carmody -- 65 teams (the current number, out of a possible 334 Division I basketball teams) is plenty. I like the scarcity -- it gives the regular season a great deal of meaning, and there aren't all that many controversies about who gets in and who doesn't (outside of 1 or 2 per year). Another argument against increasing the number is that some observers believe that increasing the number would just be a payoff to the big conferences, given that right now they get most of the at-large bids. So, increase the number of teams to 96 and, guess what? Will the Big East, which now gets about 7 of its 16 teams into the tournament, suddenly get 12 of the 16? Would the Big East deserve it?

The article points out that more than half the teams in the NBA and NHL make the playoffs. And look what that lack of scarcity and selectivity has done to those leagues? Their brands are diluted and weak. But, the article also points out that the NCAA can opt out of its $6 billion contract with CBS, precisely because of the reason that it might want to increase the roster of teams to 96.

This bears watching.

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