Chicago Sun-Times
With Sun-Times sports reporter Herb Gould

Expanding (ugh) the field of 65

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There's a lot of talk about expanding the NCAA tournament. And while I would keep it right where it is, if they MUST tinker with the Big Dance, here's the least invasive way to do it.
The talk about a 96-team field is ridiculous. But four or eight teams might address the complaints of bubble-team coaches (and create a new set of complaining bubble-team coaches).
Here's my suggestion: Put these bubble teams in the play-in games. They would play into the bracket as 10th and 11th seeds, or maybe be dropped among the 10s, 11s and 12s.
This serves two purposes. It preserves the NCAA tournament experience for the small schools, who have done everything right, and played their way in. Second, it creates some play-in games that would generate more interest than the small-school games. If expansion is money-driven--and of course it is--how much money would eight play-in games among small schools generate? Bubble-team play-in games actually could generate some interest.
It comes down to what you think of these games.
Here's what they might have looked like this year.
The team that went to the NIT is listed first, matched up with the NCAA team it might have played:

NIT team vs. NCAA team
1 Illinois vs. Utah State
2 Va Tech vs. UTEP
3 Miss. State vs. San Diego State
4 Arizona State vs. Minnesota

5 Ole Miss vs. Washington
6 UAB vs. Misssouri
7 Rhode Island vs. Florida
8 Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech

My thought is, half of these games would be played on Tuesday, half on Wednesday. And then they would feed into Thursday and Friday sites, accordingly. That does the least damage to the current setup. And three games in five days is better than three games in three days (or worse), which is what teams do at conference tournaments.
My other thought is, these games look a lot NIT games being inserted in the NCAA tournament, rather than the other way around. I wouldn't do it.
And they're not going to do it this way, anyway. They're going to take it out on the small schools, which is really a shame.
But the suspicion here is that, one way or another, they are going to do something.

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This page contains a single entry by Herb Gould published on March 17, 2010 10:09 AM.

The Michigan debacle, and other BT tourney thoughts was the previous entry in this blog.

President Obama's NCAA bracket has lot in common with Sun-Times' bracket is the next entry in this blog.

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