Monday, May 12, 2008

NCAA tournament expansion unlikely

The idea of expanding the NCAA tournament has a fair amount of support from college basketball coaches.

They make the point that 64 of 119 Bowl Subdivision teams (53.8 percent) played in bowl games last season, and two more bowls have been credentialed by the NCAA for 2008.

Meanwhile, 19.1 percent of the 341 Division I men’s basketball teams reached the NCAA tournament.

“Why is it that football can add more bowls and everybody will be pleased and happy,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, “but basketball can’t add more teams to eliminate this subjective, confusing (selection) process?”

“I really think the field needs to be expanded,” said Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio.

Problem is, the Division I men’s basketball committee considered expanding the field two years ago but decided against it. The tournament is one of the most successful sporting events ever in the United States.

Because of that, TV executives and NCAA officials hesitate to tinker with the formula. The only change over the past 23 years has been the addition of one play-in game, which moved the field to 65.

“I can’t speak for the basketball committee at this given point in time,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford, “but they’ve made it clear that (expansion) is not somewhere it intends to go in the immediate future.”

Swofford already has made another sensible argument for ACC coaches and administrators, who are in their spring meetings this week at Fernandina Beach, Fla. They’re upset that the ACC received just four NCAA tournament bids this season despite having the nation’s highest conference ranking in the RPI, which measures winning percentage and strength of schedule.

In a letter sent to the Division I men’s basketball committee, Swofford requested that conference strength be added to the criteria considered for NCAA tournament selection.

“The ACC over the years as it’s been, top to bottom, one of the strongest leagues of all in the country,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt. “Actually that letter, I had a chance to look at it, had some things even I didn’t realize.”

Swofford makes the point that the bottom teams in the ACC were strong last season. N.C. State defeated Villanova and Davidson. Virginia won at Arizona.

If the field isn’t going to be expanded, using conference strength as a rallying point probably is the ACC’s next best option. That would be a good spot for the coaches to focus their energy. – Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Considering that the total margin of N.C. State's victories over Davidson and Villanova was 2 points (one on a neutral court and the other at N.C. State), I'm not sure what that proved.

Anonymous said...

A berth in the Bowl is supposed to be equated with a bid to the NCAA tourney? These minor bowl bids are to post-season football what the NIT and the other new post-season tournament are to college basketball.

These coaches sound like idiots.

For a BCS team to go to a football bowl, they barely have to get to 6 wins (some teams go with a .500 record). For a basketball team from a BCS conference to make the post-season NIT, they barely have to play .500 for the season.

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