Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open-Source the NCAA Tournament:
Expand the Field to All 340 Teams

Replace conference tournaments and expand the NCAA Tournament to all 340 teams. It is one of my pet causes -- one I have laid out here before. Here's how it would work:

Step 1: At the end of the regular season, the top 32 teams earn byes into the Big Dance. The remaining 308 teams are seeded into a bracket.

Step 2: Within 4 rounds of games (the same 4 games most small-league champs play to earn their NCAA bid anyway during C-Week), you cut that group down to 32.

Step 3: Seed them with the Top 32 into the usual 64-team format. Play on as usual.

That's it.

There is no Bubble; everyone is in. Where conference tournaments are already a de fe "everyone-in-the-pool" tournament, this formalizes it.

The incentive to do well in the regular season: To get into that Top 32 and get the bye week (but the 32 who survive the 308-team scrum have their own advantage -- momentum).

Expanding the NCAA Tournament by a handful of teams is pretty useless; it doesn't solve anything. Letting everyone in does.

Championship Week (at least the first half) is fun. The NCAA Tournament is fun. Let's take the best of both and make them even better.

-- D.S.


philipjsnell said...

I was thinking about this very idea this morning on my way to work before I read your post. In theory it sounds like a great idea. But it is not without problems.

1. How are the Top 32 teams picked? Is it the current NCAA selection committee? Its probably tough to differentiate between teams 30-35 and I'd be ticked to be team #33 and be forced to play 4 extra games while team #32 is on spring break for a week waiting to find out who they play.
2. What happens to the NIT? Does it just disappear? I doubt NIT organizers would just go away quietly.
3. Conferences surely make bank on the tourneys. They will never sacrifice the almighty dollar to make the NCAA more "fair".

I'd love to have a 340 team tourney, but its not going to happen.

Richard Lynch said...

how do you determine the top 32?

John said...

I can't believe anyone would think this would be a good idea. You're essentially ruining the sport of men's college basketball, just so you can have an extra week of tournament games.

No sport, whether it be professional, or amateur, or beginner, or whatever, should allow all its teams into the playoffs. It just defeats the main purpose of a sports league.

Matthew Stollak said...

How do you deal with the third round?

If 308 teams play, 154 win
When you match up 154, you are left with 77.

How do you get those 77 down to 32?

homer64 said...

I like the idea, but your math is off. A starting pool of 308 would be reduced to 38.5 teams after four rounds, not 32. Your pool would need to start at 256 teams to get to 32 teams after four rounds. Your plan gives teams who have a solid regular season a reward, not just those that might get hot in or around tournament time. It also ends the inevitable whining from those teams that are left out of the tournament because their weak regular season results (and not some surprise "upset" in a conference tournament) leaves them on the outside looking in.

Kurt said...

How do you pick the top 32 teams? This just adds a "bubble" for getting a bye or not getting a bye.

cmr said...

The only expansion idea I would approve is one that opens it up to everyone.

This would also give the TV analysts years and years to discuss whether one of the 32 bye teams that lose in the first round was "too rested" or "too rusty".

George said...

i like this idea a lot. being a student at a small D1 school, its frustrating seldom getting into the spotlight. year in and year out its a struggle to simply advance in our conference tournament, let alone get to the big dance. i am all for it!


Kevin said...

So you're going to put together the same system we already have (everybody has a chance to make it to the final 64), except make it more confusing and less regionalized, and eliminate any possible rivalry games or games where the students might actually be able to watch the game. Brilliant.