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Holy Crap. The NCAA Got It RIGHT!

April 22, 2010
Color me shocked. Shocked, I tell you. The NCAA is near completing a deal that would merely expand the NCAA Tournament from 65 to 68 games, versus the dreaded 96-team scenario that many sports fan feared was on the horizon.

I can live with 68. In a lot of respects, it actually makes more sense to have 68 teams (with four play-in games versus just one) than 65. The lone play-in game we’ve had since the tournament expanded to 65 years ago just felt like a slapped-on, foreign entity, not part of the larger tournament. Now, with four play-in games, there’s a greater opportunity to promote those games as a package leading up to the NCAA tournament.

A friend of mine proposed this idea, which I like:

Turn that first Tuesday into a mini tournament atmosphere. Have all 4 games at the same place on the same day. It’ll be more fun for the teams involved. — Scott M.

Sounds good to me, and I agree. Dayton has embraced the one play-in game with open arms, and I imagine they would salivate at the opportunity to host not just one but four games as an all-day affair.

So props to the NCAA for getting it right. They could’ve looked strictly at dollar signs and probably gotten more cash from ESPN/ABC for a 96-team field. But they heard the customers that have made the tournament so popular over the last 30 years, and brokered a deal with CBS and Turner that maximizes the revenue while impacting the total product–both the tournament and college basketball on the whole–the least.

It could always expand further in the future, but for now, I’m on board.

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