Four Corners: Should the NCAA tourney field be expanded to 96?

March 15, 2010

Make teams earn it
Mike Anthony

Hartford Courant

No way.

With more Division I teams than ever, 347, it's easy to say the time has come for expansion from 65 to 96 teams. But why? So the NCAA can stockpile money ? So we can waste an additional week in March as we get a glimpse of also-rans in first-round games? So the title can be awarded in mid-April?

Gaining entry into the NCAA field shouldn't be any easier than it is. While expansion might give a few seemingly worthy at-large teams the chance to dance instead of being left out by conference tournament champions, we'd rather see a few coveted spots earned by the major conferences' middle-of-the-pack teams coming down the stretch and scratching out a few needed victories.

Let's not make March Madness more confusing than it is.

manthony@tribune.com

Don't water it down
Andrea Adelson

Orlando Sentinel

Everybody loves March Madness because of its unpredictability. Who will be the next 2 seed to fall to a 15 seed? Which 8 or 9 seed will make it to the Sweet 16? But expanding to a 96-team tournament would render the first few rounds well, boring. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants to see Harvard vs. Southern Miss in the first round, or Morgan State vs. USC.

Nobody wants a watered-down tournament field. And by nobody, I mean the fans. Of course, the NCAA wants a watered-down field because of the big money a new TV deal would get. Coaches want it because an NCAA berth means job security. No doubt players want it.

But a 96-team field is not in the best interest of college basketball. Adding more teams takes away from a great product. Do you really want to see March Somewhat Madness?

aadelson@tribune.com

There's no reason
Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

The NCAA tournament should remain a VIP party, not a come-as-you-are open house.

Every argument made for expansion can be batted down like a shot by a tiny guard going against a 7-footer in the lane.

Some say expansion would be fairer and provide more chances for athletes to do something special.

A) If everyone is doing it, it's no longer special. B) That's what the conference tournaments are for; everyone has a shot. C) Count the NIT and CBI and there is ample opportunity for postseason ball.

Some coaches argue that too many good teams are left out each year. But deciding on the last few teams in the field is like sorting through Goodwill racks for a prom gown. It's not easy to find anything pretty.

Expanding the tournament only dresses the event down.

sryan@tribune.com

.500 not good enough
David Teel

Newport News

Daily Press

If this season's NCAA tournament had included 96 teams, the following juggernauts would have merited consideration: North Carolina, Texas Tech, Connecticut and South Carolina. Those four squads finished a combined 22 games under .500 in their respective conferences, and the best overall record in the bunch is 17-15.

What's that you say? College football teams that finish 6-6 routinely receive bowl bids? True enough. But if college basketball is going to lower its championship standards to match a sport incapable of devising a playoff, then the apocalypse surely is near. The bracket as constructed is the closest thing to sports perfection we have.

dteel@tribune.com

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