Mike DeCourcy writes over at The Sporting News that the NCAA is talking about expanding the men's basketball tournament again.â†µ
Honestly, the real discussion should be about dropping the odious Opening Round game to get the field back to an even 64, not to add spots that will likely be filled by mediocre power conference teams who can't even earn a .500 record in their leagues. What is this? Bowl season?â†µ
The current format works perfectly. In essence, the champion has to win three four-team tournaments, of varying levels of difficulty, over three consecutive weekends, to claim the title. Adding in 32 more teams means that the big boys would get the advantage of sitting until the second round, significantly hampering the underdog factor that draws people to the event year in and year out.â†µ
It seems the motivation may very well be money. It turns out that after the Final Four in April, the NCAA can opt out of the final three years of that monstrously big TV contract they signed with CBS back in 1999. That could open the door for ESPN, who already dominates college basketball coverage (see Ryan Hudson's commentary on early season tournaments). The cable giant will already take football's BCS off the broadcast airwaves next season, and March Madness is a property Bristol has long wanted in its portfolio. You can bet they'll pay significantly more than CBS to do so.â†µ
So, if tournament expansion is in the cards, when do we get a football playoff?