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Tough Choices For NCAA As It Considers March Madness Expansion


Tough Choices As NCAA Considers Expansion

The first NCAA men's basketball tournament, held in 1939, was played with just eight teams. According to ESPN and Yahoo Sports reports, the NCAA is considering expanding the bracket to 72, 76, or possibly even 80 teams.


If these changes are to be implemented, they will not take effect until at least the 2025-26 season, and it's likely that the women's tournament will also adopt the changes. NCAA Vice President Dave Gavitt presented the options at the annual summer meeting of Division I college commissioners.


Those commissioners will have the final say on whether to maintain the current 68-team format or adopt the proposed changes.


Possible Problems With NCAA Expansion

Tough Choices For NCAA As It Considers March Madness Expansion

Under the proposed changes, the tournament would still feature 64 teams, but more teams would be added to the play-in round, now known as the First Four.


This could potentially result in more lower-seed teams having to win a play-in game to secure a spot in the main NCAA tournament.


"It is appropriate to look at expansion, and we need to do that," ACC commissioner James Phillips said. "When do you get to the point when the regular season doesn't matter?" Phillips said. "Modest expansion is something I would prefer."

The big conferences are pushing for expansion, but there are more issues. Would some smaller colleges with automatic bids from 28 conferences be forced to win a play-in game to get in?


The smaller conferences and fans would not be happy about that. Gavitt's team took months to complete these proposals, and a final decision will take many more months.


More Teams Means More Money


Tough Choices For NCAA As It Considers March Madness Expansion

The NCAA earns about $1 billion annually from its basketball tournament, Division I schools split $700 million of that.


CBS and Turner Networks are locked into contracts with the NCAA through 2032 and will not have to pay more money if the tournament is expanded.


The additional income would be small. The schools would be concerned about how the money would be divided with more teams in the tournament. The tournament last expanded in 2011 to 68 teams




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