Friday, April 23, 2010

Just When I'd Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 96-Team Field

Aside from a handful of ESPN/ABC executives, I may have been the only person who was looking forward to the possibility of a 96-team NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. I didn't like the idea at first. There really aren't 96 teams in any given year that deserve to play for a national championship. And while 96 is mathematically more sexy than 65 (which is mathematically abhorrent), it still isn't a power of 2. But I grew to appreciate the 96-team idea for two reasons:

  • If the NCAA and whatever television network(s) they have a deal with give me 31 more NCAA Tournament games, I'm going to watch as many of these games as possible, and I'm going to enjoy watching. That these games would have determined second-round match-ups made them more interesting than any NIT game.

  • I truly believe that a University of Evansville men's basketball team with juniors Colt Ryan, Ned Cox, and Bryan Bouchie and seniors James Haarsma and Denver Holmes could finish third or fourth in the Missouri Valley and earn an at-large bid in a 96-team field in 2012. I'm not at all confident that, in the foreseeable future, UE can win the Missouri Valley or put together a resume that would earn them a spot in a 68-team field.

Alas, the NCAA eschewed the 96-team idea and settled on 68. I guess the Aces will have to overachieve.


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