April 1, 2010

Say ‘No’ to expansion

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

There are very few times in the sporting universe when the term “expansion” is actually a good thing. Well, maybe just one, like the MLB playoffs — who wouldn’t enjoy one or two more teams making it per season, even if just for a three-game series.?

Just ask the NHL (too many teams), NFL players (against more games) or anybody who has heard of the latest plans to expand the NCAA tournament to 96 teams. After watching the incredible tournament that we’ve witnessed this year, it’s not surprising that the NCAA would want to expand it and earn even more money than the billions they currently rake in.

The thing is, by allowing more teams in, it takes out a lot of the drama and the quality of play. It dilutes the meaning of making the tournament that’s supposed to feature only the best programs in the nation. Do we really need to allow more teams that weren’t qualified enough to make it before?

If the plan goes through, which, sadly, is “probable,” then the top eight teams in each region would essentially get bye while seeds 9-16 would face a 17-24 seed. Are you kidding me? We already see 16 seeds run off the court every March, how badly could a 24 seed do? Would we eventually start seeing .500 teams make the tournament? That’s not entirely out of the question. All that we do know is that the Patriot League representative probably still won’t win a game.

Of course, college coaches would love this plan. By adding 31 teams, that means 31 coaches could potentially save their asses from being fired. Maybe, if their school wasn’t one of the 65 best in the nation, the coach shouldn’t be saved anyway, but that’s just how some teams look at things.

The NCAA has to learn that a few extra bucks isn’t worth killing their product. When some people have to be convinced into an office pool where you pick 63 games – and that can be tedious – how could the average secretary ever want to be involved in something as complicated as 96-team tourney would?

And, after all these arguments against expansion, this isn’t even getting into how the players would react to an extra game worth of wear and tear, plus how an extra round would kill the excitement of Opening Round Thursday and Friday.

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