Some High-Major Coaches Actually Favor At-Larges In Opening Round

While we wait for the NCAA to make a decision about how the new opening round of the NCAA Tournament will look during meetings in June, we're getting more coaches weighing in on potential scenarios. To my surprise, FanHouse was able to find a handful of high-major coaches who actually favor the idea of populating the four opening round games with at-large teams rather than low-major conference winners. ↵
↵⇥ ↵⇥"The [at-large] bubble teams playing would be a big bang right out of the gate on Tuesday," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey (pictured) said. "That would be an interesting idea to wake everyone up right away and play those games on Tuesday and go 'here we go.'" ↵⇥

↵⇥[...] ↵⇥

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↵⇥"I think it will make for some great matchups," [DePaul coach Oliver] Purnell said. "You're always talking about bubble teams leading up to the tournament, so you're bringing that element into the tournament instead of leaving it out. It creates even more excitement." ↵⇥

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↵⇥[...] ↵⇥

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↵⇥[Michigan State coach Tom] Izzo, who has been to six Final Fours in the past 12 seasons, said he thinks the NCAA will decide to go with the option with the final eight at-large teams meeting in the play-in games. ↵⇥

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↵That's three coaches -- Brey, Purnell and Izzo -- all either endorsing or predicting we'll see at-larges playing in opening round games. In addition, Butler's Brad Stevens tells FanHouse he believes teams already playing a game would have an advantage over their opponent, which I'm not entirely sure is true because they haven't even hashed out where the games would be played. I'm not sure, if a team had to play in Dayton and then travel to a second city, there would be any advantage. If anything, it'd be at the detriment of the lower seed. ↵

↵All of that aside, why would any high-major coach volunteer this opinion? Izzo, Brey or Stevens could easily find themselves as one of the last eight in during any given season. In a "better you than me" type of scenario, would all of these coaches rather have some low-major playing an opening round game rather than facing that fate themselves? ↵

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↵I already went through the impracticality of this model back in April, but maybe this kind of support from coaches makes it less of a slam dunk that many anticipated. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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