ESPN.com reported Thursday that the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is hoping to expand to 68 teams next year, having passed unanimously by the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. This still needs final approval from the Board of Directors, who are expected to meet April 29 to decide. But the even bigger news is that beginning next year, all the games will be not only be seen live, but will also include (in addition to CBS) a share of the games through Round 2 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearing on three of Turner’s broadcast entities. That being TBS, TNT, and truTV.
The Expected Expansion for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Won’t Really Dilute March Madness That Much
Fans of March Madness will welcome being able to see all the games live for sure via four broadcast entities, beginning with next year’s Big Dance in 2011, part of a $10.8 billion deal that runs through 2024. If this proposal for a 68 team field passes, expect one play-in game in each of the four regions, as right now, there is just one such game with the 65 team field. This change will add just three at large bids ultimately, and won’t water down the tournament like a 96 team field would have.
Prior to this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that was ultimately won by Duke over Butler in a thriller final at Indianapolis, there were 347 Division I teams, according to ESPN.com. Sixty-eight teams getting into the 2011 tournament means that less than 20 percent of the teams would be allowed into The Big Dance. Had 96 teams been approved of, that would’ve meant that more than one out of every four teams would be selected, watering down March Madness.
I have been vehemently against tournament expansion, as I argued against such in my March 11, 2010 Associated Content article here. Adding three teams, while I still wish it wouldn’t happen, at least isn’t going to be too radical. Yet with the expansion to 68 teams, it still means the bubble is going to get a bit bigger; and thus, there will still be hard feelings by those teams that don’t make it. This no matter how many teams get into March Madness. There’s always going to be teams that are on the outside of the window looking in. You can’t please everybody.
Because of money considerations, expect expansion in the future somewhere down the line, because when broadcast television and sports entities like the NCAA get together, it’s ultimately about the “dead presidents.”
Sources for this article about the probable expansion of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to 68 teams:
CBS, Turner win TV rights to tourney: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5125307, April 22, 2010, ESPN news services
Tourney chair: Expansion not our focus:
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=4983460, March 10, 2010, The Associated Press (appearing at ESPN.com)