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Expand the NCAA Tournament? No Thanks

Am I getting old? No, it’s the people who want expansion who are wrong.

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

At some point in your life you begin to say things, or in our day and age post things, that your younger self would look at and say that’s an old person complaint. I think I’ve largely avoided that in my life. Until Sunday. Sunday I attended the Purdue vs. Penn State game at the Palestra. It was a wonderful experience and a great game. Then I tweeted this:

Yes, the music was too loud. Possibly the most old person complaint there is. I stand by that comment. Maybe that’s another sign I’m getting old. I’m not sure. Right now though I feel like this whole column is me coming off as an old crank. But, maybe not. I think I’m in the right here.

This all started, like most things do these days, when someone took to Twitter and said something ridiculous. In this case it was the Loyola Marymount Athletics Director. What did he say you might ask? Well, I’m about to show you but before I do remember that people like this AD have a vested interest in this point of view. There’s no altruism here.

“More of A Great Thing: Expansion to 96 Teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.” Absolutely not, no, immediately no. But, being the good blogger I am I read his linked article. I wanted to understand his argument before I disagreed with it. His argument is basically this; the original intent of the NCAA Tournament expansion was to accommodate approximately 25% of the schools and with there being over 300 schools in DI basketball now it makes sense to expand the tournament to 96 teams.

There’s a certain amount of sense to I’ll admit. As the number of DI teams have expanded the NCAA Tournament has not. Therefore a smaller and smaller percentage of eligible teams are making it into the postseason. But maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older or the fact that the NCAA Tournament is absolutely perfect as is that makes me blanche at this idea. He goes on to further explain that all automatic qualifiers would bypass these new rounds and head right to the round of 64. This seems like an absurd thing to do. Doing this would benefit a number of small conferences that generally only get one bid. Though I’m sure that’s just a coincidence from the AD of Loyola Marymount who play in the...checks notes...West Coast Conference.

He goes on further to argue that this new NCAA Tournament would subsume the NIT. I suppose if you’re going to do this it makes sense to end the NIT but again, this is just a bad idea. The only reason to do this, the only reason anything like this gets done, is money. It’s why the NFL added an extra game. It’s why the CFP is expanding to 12 teams from four. It’s why the NCAA already added the First Four games to the NCAA Tournament. They know more games equals more money and they want more money. It’s just the nature of the business. And I get it. You think I’m writing here on this website for the love of the game? No, I want more money. You think I show up to work every day because It’s good for my health? No, I want more money. As the Wu-Tang Clan once said Cash Rules Everything Around Me.

Follow the money and see where it goes. (Some) Basketball coaches want this because getting into the NCAA Tournament generally means a bonus for them (that might change if everyone gets in), ADs want this to bring prestige to their school (see above), the NCAA wants it because a new media rights package with more games might net them more money. There’s little doubt it would mean more money for a lot of people. But that shouldn’t be the only reason you do something. I know that’s naive and a little bit silly, but I have to think there’s some sort of purity and good intentions left in the sporting world. The NCAA Tournament is our most perfect sporting tournament. Is it chaotic? Absolutely. Does it always crown the best team as champion? Absolutely not. Has it been incredibly unkind to Purdue in recent memory? Absolutely. Would expanding the number of teams change that? Absolutely not.

All this plan would do is line the pockets of those who are already the wealthiest. It might make some lower level coaches look good but to quote Bandit from Bluey “Not everything can be special. That’s not how that word works!” Not everyone can make the NCAA Tournament, that’s what makes it special. The exclusivity. Sure there are a few teams with legitimate gripes every year about being left out but overall the Committee does a great job of putting the right teams in. Unless you want to simply count the conference tournaments as opening rounds of the NCAA Tournaments I’m not sure you can ever convince me expansion is a good idea. Truth be told I wouldn’t mind if they took it back down to 64. But there it is again, I’m sounding old. Maybe it’s best I just wrap this up. It’s almost 9:00 PM and I’m ready for bed. Now get off my lawn you darn kids.