Was going to 68 NCAA tournament teams the right choice?

May 03, 2010

More isn't better

Paul Doyle

Harford Courant

Talk of a 96-team tournament had us all irritated at the NCAA.

So the announcement that the tournament will expand only to 68 teams — for now — has been met with approval. Adding three teams won't change the dynamic of the tournament and is something we can all live with.

Should the NCAA have used a broader brush? Absolutely not. Expanding to 96 teams would have been a money grab that would have watered down the tournament. The Big Dance should be difficult to reach, not any easier. And while fans and media jump on the underdog train every year, TV ratings show we ultimately want the college basketball brands. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. are the big draws.

So let's not dilute one of the great events in sports. Our vote is to leave it alone, but we'll accept a small expansion.


A fan-friendly decision

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

Imagine that. An organization that is often lambasted for hypocrisy and making decisions based on profit did something that fans actually wanted.

Make that demanded.

The NCAA made the right decision in nixing the plot for a 96-team field and instead increasing the tournament by only three teams.

The model that has made March Madness one of the most beloved competitions in sports will remain essentially the same. The only tweak that could make it better would be to follow the model suggested by one ESPN writer to add a pre-tournament game for bubble teams trying to get in.

The NCAA did what the fans wanted.

What's next? A football playoff?


Just a little extra

Andrea Adelson

Orlando Sentinel

The NCAA got this one right: Expanding the tournament to 68 teams preserves the excitement, drama and potential for upsets. This is not watered down, it is not pandering to the TV money. This is simply allowing a few extra bubble teams to be allowed into the madness.

About the only people who wanted the tournament expanded to 96 teams were coaches who believed more teams in would help with job security. Fans hated the idea, screaming about undeserving teams making it in with such a large field.

Hopefully, this move will now cut down on the complaints about bubble teams missing out on the tournament. Each year there are three to five teams that have a valid case for inclusion. With the field going from 65 to 68, those complaints may not cut it. If your team is not one of the best 68 in the country, then so sorry, try again next year.

Will the tournament stay at 68 forever? The chances are low. But for now, adding three more teams was the way to go.


68 is greater than 96

David Teel

Newport News

Daily Press

Maybe 96 was a bluff to make 68 palatable. Or maybe public opinion actually mattered. Regardless, the NCAA's expansion of its men's basketball tournament from 65 to 68 teams is a fine Bordeaux compared to the cough syrup of 96 — the trial balloon of 96 met with near-universal condemnation.

Nirvana would have been a contraction to the perfect symmetry of 64, first established in 1985, but 68 and four play-in games, one for each region, was probably the second-best option.

The issue now becomes, whom will the NCAA assign to those games? The field's lowest-rated teams, inevitably champions of smaller conferences? Or the final at-large selections, often teams from power leagues? Let's hope for the latter and that the idea of 96 is mothballed. Permanently.


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