When I read my colleague Mike DeCourcy's argument against expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams, I couldn't help but lead today's SN column with a point-by-point rebuttal.
Here's the larger point: The Tournament thrives not because of who is in it, but the format itself. Most fans can't tell you Coppin State from South Carolina, but they know that a "15" beating a "2" is really really fun. Or that a buzzer-beater is fun, regardless of whether it's from a "name" brand like UNC or a relatively anonymous Western Kentucky.
Fans love the first Thursday and Friday not because the quality is particularly good, but because there's a ton of games all day long on a day they'd otherwise be working; they have made predictions about those games' outcomes with their coworkers; and it's fun -- regardless of who's playing or how "good" they might be. As long as a handful of games are close and there are even a handful of upsets, fans will be happy. And to double that experience would be universally loved. To assume otherwise would be like saying "If you expand it from 32 to 64, it'll RUIN the Tournament!"
Anyway, my pal Mike touched a nerve -- expanding the Tournament is one of my favorite issues.
More you'll find in today's column:
*As you saw in the post last night, I'm a big fan of ND presumably hiring Brian Kelly, even if that means we won't have Notre Dame to kick around anymore.
*Charlie Strong is a great hire for Louisville, and Louisville is a great opportunity for Strong.
*Who had "early December in his first year" for Lane Kiffin's first potential major NCAA violation?
*Ndamukong Suh is going to get the Tim Tebow Heisman treatment from 2008: He is going to get the most 1st-place votes, but come in no better than 3rd because enough dumb voters will leave his name of their ballots entirely.
*Was last night a break-through for Greg Monroe?
*Go pick up your bottle of "Gatorade Tiger" drink, because it's going to be a collector's item.
Check out the complete column here. More later.