Thursday, April 22, 2010

Your New Magic Number: 68

Well, thank goodness the Republic has been preserved. The new NCAA/CBS/Turner "March Madness" deal doesn't expand the men's NCAA baketball tournament field to 96 teams.

I write with tongue firmly in cheek, since I happen to favor a bigger field. As I've written previously, my real problem with springtime college hoops is the conference tournaments, which negate the regular-season conference schedules. Eliminate the conference tournaments and you could easily add a couple of rounds to the NCAA's--meaning an expansion to 128 or even 256 teams with little extra effort.

What the NCAA is doing leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Now, instead of two small-conference schools being relegated to a "play-in" game for the right to face a number-one seed (in a 65-team field), we'll have four of those games. Each winner will face a #1 seed. Which, of course, more or less guarantees the rapid advancement of favored teams.

Call me crazy, but don't fans of March Madness really enjoy an upset? Isn't the tournament more fun when the big boys don't always win? Look no farther than the 2010 results for proof.

And while you're looking, see if you can figure what happened to ESPN. Everyone figured a new broadcast deal for March Madness would involve ESPN, but somehow, the network fell short in its bid.

Maybe they wanted too many teams in the field.

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