March Madness Should Expand to 96 Teams

Monday, Mar 15, 2010  |  Updated 12:09 PM PDT
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Cheerleaders of the NCAA

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Xavier Henry, #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks, looks to move the ball. The No. 1 seed will take on No. 16 seed Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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There have been rumblings recently that the NCAA will soon decide to expand the NCAA tournament to as many as 96 teams, in order to bring in an even more lucrative new TV contract. Like anyone today furiously trying to fill out and bracket and seeking out ways to have Duke lose as early as possible, I first reacted to this idea thusly: “Well, that’s dumb.”

But then, I sat down and thought about it, and I realized I’m not as against this idea as I first thought. Allow me to take you through the arguments against this idea and debunk them.

1. IT WOULD RUIN THE REGULAR SEASON.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I already happily ignore the college basketball regular season. So it’s not like it can be rendered any MORE irrelevant in my eyes. In fact, this helps eliminate the few stragglers who still DO care about the regular season. Those people are annoying.

2. IT WOULD REWARD MEDIOCRITY.

Yeah, but you’ll still need a winning record or a conference tourney championship to get in. That’s much better than the postseason in college football, where 6-6 teams are routinely rewarded with a slot in some horrid game played in El Paso at 12:30PM on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-December. And those bowl games don’t even LEAD anywhere. Also, we finally get rid of the NIT with this idea. I hate the NIT. Nothing wastes valuable ticker space like NIT results. Imagine the NIT if it mattered, and you get a 96-team tourney.

Besides, the NCAA tourney has been letting mediocre teams in for decades anyway. Heck, the entire field is mediocre this year. Many people believe this is the year a one seed finally goes down to a sixteen seed, and I agree with them. LOOKING YOUR WAY, SYRACUSE.

3. THE EVENT IS ALREADY PERFECT! WHY FIX WHAT ISN’T BROKEN?

Because fixing things that aren’t broken is what we Americans are GOOD at. We pimp perfectly functional cars. We turn entertaining movies into 3D droolfests. We have appetizer portions of potato skins that can feed 16 people. Going wayyyy over the top is in our blood.

Furthermore, ask yourself this question: What’s your favorite part of the NCAA tourney? It’s the first round, isn’t it? It’s sneaking out of work at 2PM on Thursday, going to a bar, and delighting in the orgy of games laid out before you. Well, imagine an EXTRA 32 games of that. Suddenly, it’s not such a horrid idea now, is it? More games. More drinking. More not working. That’s a win.

Last point: They already fixed what isn’t broken by adding that stupid play-in game. I hate the play-in game. It makes the two teams involve feel like they haven’t made the tourney, and it never feels like part of the whole thing. Do you watch the play-in game? Of course you don’t. It’s stupid. The only way to fix the play-in game is to A) Get rid of it, or B) Add 15 more, so play-in games feel like an actual part of the tournament.

5. IT’LL MAKE FILLING OUT BRACKETS HARD!

Oh, because it’s so easy now? Look, I’m already having a nervous breakdown trying to pick the winner of Kentucky and Wake Forest/Texas. Are they kidding me with that 8/9 matchup? THAT’S A KILLER!

These brackets are never easy to fill out, which is why everyone loses their pool. You’ll adjust to the new bracket. You’ll hate it at first, and then, by the next year, you won’t care.

So let go of your purism and enjoy the prospect. This may be one of the last years you see this tourney as a 65-team affair, and that’s not such a horrible thing.

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