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06/25/2006 11:39:54 EST NCAA to Weigh Expanding Basketball Tourney

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS - In a perfect world, college basketball coaches would nearly double the size of the 65-team NCAA men's tournament field. Realistically, they'd accept a smaller victory. Motivated in part by George Mason's remarkable Final Four run last season, coaches will urge the NCAA to expand its most lucrative championship event during the men's and women's basketball committee meetings in Orlando, Fla., this week.

"They'd love to see the tournament double to 128," said Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. "It's based on several things. First, there are a lot of good teams worthy of making the NCAA field, and second, the size of 64 or 65 has been in place for a number of years."

Potential models range from minor adjustments to major changes.

When Haney met with NCAA officials last month, he proposed the 128-team field in part because postseason bids may help coaches keep their jobs.

At this year's Final Four, though, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he supported expansion on a smaller scale. Boeheim and others suggested adding three to seven teams, a move they claimed would allow as many as four opening-round games to be played in Dayton, Ohio, instead of the one now played between the two lowest-seeded teams in the field.

Some believe such a schedule would create a more realistic tournament environment since first-round sites also play four games on the first day.

But changes don't appear imminent.

In March, NCAA president Myles Brand said he didn't see much support to expand the field and vice president for men's basketball Greg Shaheen reiterated that point Friday.

"Many, many people believe the size of the championship is just right," Shaheen said. "A lot of people think there's enough recognition of teams that did well and there's a logical and timely conclusion to the season."

Shaheen said this week's discussions, which end Thursday, will mark the first time expansion has been on the agenda in several years. The reason?

After a four-year legal battle with the National Invitation Tournament, the NCAA agreed to buy the tournament for $56.5 million last August.

Expansion also faces additional hurdles.

If the NCAA opted for a 128-team field, the number of first-round sites would double and an extra week of play would likely be added. Plus, Shaheen said the NCAA would have to debate how best to provide maximum television coverage.

Shaheen said changes would also have to be made in conjunction with the women's tournament.

"There is no one model that is obvious here, and that's something we need to contemplate," he said. "The other issue is how the women's tournament would be similarly impacted here and they need to coincide."

The coaches, however, contend there are many reasons to expand. Among their arguments:

_ The number of Division I teams has increased significantly since the last major expansion more than two decades ago. The field went from 48 to 64 teams in 1985, then added a 65th team to the field in 2001 when the number of automatic bids went from 30 to 31.

_ George Mason, which was one of the last at-large teams to make the field this year, proved parity in college basketball is real. The combination of prominent programs losing underclassmen at faster rates and scholarship reductions have helped mid-major schools become more competitive. The coaches believe they deserved to be rewarded accordingly.

_ Now that the NCAA controls both postseason tournaments, coaches think it's time to include some of the bubble teams that annually complain when they are left out.

Could it happen?

"I don't think the idea of doubling the field is going to happen right now because there are too many complications to do that," Haney said. "But I think the committee will seriously consider what the number will be. ... I think if it happens, it will have to happen soon because of the logistical issues."

WTF????

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Ya... 128... not realistic. That, in my opinion is WAY too much. I think its good right now where its at, you dont want it deluted down too much. I can see maybe adding like 3 more play in games, for each 16 seed.

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Ya... 128... not realistic. That, in my opinion is WAY too much. I think its good right now where its at, you dont want it deluted down too much. I can see maybe adding like 3 more play in games, for each 16 seed.

Yeah, it is better as it is right now. Though I did like the idea of adding a couple more teams to have a mini-tournament to get into the big tournament. It would add more of a tournament atmosphere to the Play-In games.

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Ya... 128... not realistic. That, in my opinion is WAY too much. I think its good right now where its at, you dont want it deluted down too much. I can see maybe adding like 3 more play in games, for each 16 seed.

excellent idea right here, makes sense too.

Why the heck is the NCAA worried about the basketball tourney, they should think about a football playoff format and rid themselves of the dreaded BCS

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I like the idea. There are a total of 328 Division 1 schools that means it still is less than half of the teams making the tournament. Personally I would like them to try to figure out a way to get rid of the selection committee and come up with a predetermined set of criteria for making and seeding the tournament. You have to admit a tournament in which people decide who gets in is flawed and biased and thusly you cannot figure out who the true national champion is. Adding more teams only decreases the human element in the tournament selection. Although you will still have teams who do not make it complain. The only real way to stop the bubble complaints is to set a predetermine criteria for making and seeding the tournament.

The NCAA doesn't want to get rid of the BCS schools make to much money off of the bowls creating a tournament would mean less money to each participating school because the revenues from a NCAA sponsored tournament have to be split amongst all NCAA schools.

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It almost makes having a regular season seem pointless. I guess they're taking a page from NCAA footbal; "Hey you won 60% of your games, you get post season"....yawn.

About the only thing I can think of that comes anywhere close to making sense is that by doing this, the NIT would no longer have a very good choice of teams to invite. At least as it is many of the teams that go to the NIT are still on par with many of the teams in the Final Four Tourney.

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128 teams solves nothing.

There aren't any conferences around whose champion (regular season or tournament) doesn't already qualify for the tournament automatically. At most, there are 4 or 5 bubble teams that will always complain about how they got shafted out of an at-large bid. But the truth is, no matter how many teams you include in a tournament, it's still a finite number, and that number is less than the total number of teams. So there's always going to be a "best team left out", whether it's 32, 64 or 128. The best way to avoid being that team is to raise your level of play during the season and tournament so the committee doesn't have to overlook you. If you're the 8th best team in the Big Ten, or the 10th best team in the Big East, your body of work doesn't justify an appearance in the Dance, irrespective of your program's pedigree. You simply weren't good enough that year!

Another way to look at this problem is the schools that would round out the next 64. While some big name schools would get the remaining spots, a lot of smaller schools from less-profitable conferences would be invited as well. This would not be a financial advantage, but would rather cause huge losses. Can you imagine a small school - Idaho State, Morgan State, Canisius, Wofford, and their peers - that now must fly across the country on short notice to be served up as fodder for a Top 4 seed? How many alums are buying those tickets, getting on the planes and getting hotel rooms? How expensive is it to fly school officials, cheerleaders, trainers, the pep band and get them hotel rooms? Adding extra schools is taxing on the schools themselves, and their conferences.

Finally, look at it from the standpoint of the top-tier schools. The tournament is hard enough as it is. 6 wins stretched over a pressure-filled month in this age of parity is remarkable enough. Why make it 7 rounds, and another weekend? Since a #16 has never beaten a #1, why would a #19 seed or a #28 seed have any more luck? You're asking underqualified teams to fly to a remote location to their teeth kicked in, and you're asking a top-flight squad to spend time and money, and risk injury in an uncompetitive game.

You want to have 4 play-in games, all #16s v. #17s in Dayton? Fine, I could deal with that. But there aren't 64 more teams deserving enough to go. It's a waste of time and money that could go to better use elsewhere.

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65 is just fine, if you ask me. There's no need to expand the tourny at all.

Also, since part of the motivation seems to be from what George Mason did this season. Why not give those teams who have good resumes a higher seed? Trust me, there were some teams that deserved a higher seed and some *coughNevadacough* that deserve a lower seed.

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Yeah, calm down. It isn't realistic, and it isn't going to happen.

There are usually about 7-8 teams, max, each year that legitimately have a case for making the Big Dance, but get shafted. That doesn't mean that you add 63 more. And like VitaminD said, if there's 65 teams...there's always that 66th that almost made it. If there's 128, there's always #129.

Keep it the way it is...but if anything, add 3 more play-in games.

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For the love of god dont do it its perfect where its at now dont mess with perfection. Of course this is the NCAA so that means they will do it.

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This won't happen, folks. The NCAA will have to talk with CBS about this, and I highly doubt that:

A: The Masters tournament ever moving from it's regular second weekend in April date.

B: CBS giving up broadcasting rights to the Maters for basketball.

Eventually, AD's will adjust and fire coaches who make the tournament and not advance, just like they do now with football coaches who do take their teams to bowl games, but not the bowl game they expected to be in.

Keep the tournament at 65 teams.

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I agree with Syracuse Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim when he said,

"he supported expansion on a smaller scale. Boeheim and others suggested adding three to seven teams, a move they claimed would allow as many as four opening-round games to be played in Dayton, Ohio, instead of the one now played between the two lowest-seeded teams in the field." ESPN. com

128 is just way too much for right now maybe in the future, but expand smaller first. Add 3 or 7 teams to the tournament

Maybe school in my conference can finally make some noise, LETS GO MEAC, lol

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Remember, CBS owns CSTV, so they could add games there, plus, who said that all games had to be played Thursday-Sunday? Game could be throughout the week. Sadly, this only assist the 7th and 8th place teams of teh major conferences. The thrid place teams in leagues like the Mid-Con, Horizon, and MAAC would still not advance, but in reality, they are rewarding people/teams who marginally win. Pod seating would still occur, or the games would mirrow the women's first round with on-campus college sites. Whoa! I forgot to think that the women's tournament would probably exapnd to the same amount.

While Miles Brand thought it is currently a longshot, the NCAA is the most money driven athletic body in the US, so I think it will occur in the next 5 years.

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The first I had heard of this was in early May and the talk then was going to 80 teams. The bottom four seeds of each region compete in play in games the Tuesday and Wednesday nights after Selection Sunday.

Rather than playing them all in Dayton, I'd like to see two venues get packs of four games each year and have those venues rotate among the campuses of some of the smaller conferences who ordinarily wouldn't have a realistic shot at landing regionals or Final Fours.

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Maybe school in my conference can finally make some noise, LETS GO MEAC, lol

Finally? Has everyone already forgotten about Coppin State and Hampton?

I haven't I go to Coppin State

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Maybe school in my conference can finally make some noise, LETS GO MEAC, lol

Finally? Has everyone already forgotten about Coppin State and Hampton?

I haven't I go to Coppin State

You're not majoring in punctuation by any chance, are you?

:P

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