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NCAA Tourney Expansion Might Not Entirely Suck

04/04/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

box722.jpgWe've been hearing that the expansion of the NCAA field to 96 teams is a done deal, so let me join the sackcloth-and-ashes chorus of doom with some ham-handed analysis of my own.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to give myself some idea of what kinds of teams might make a field of nearly 100 participants. With the Great West becoming eligible for an autobid in a bit, we'll have 32 automatic qualifiers (assuming they don't monkey with that rule, too), which leaves a full tournament's worth of at-large bids (a natural and comforting 64).

Using BBstate's historical RPI listing, I considered anyone in the top 80 to be at-large-worthy (I told you it was ham-handed), because I don't have the time in my day or the mental acuity to figure out the real selection committee methodology that might take place. Let's see what the committee might have considered had this expansion occurred in, say, 2005. For ease of use, I'm going to refer to the 2008-2009 season as '09, and so forth. This is totally cherry-picked for rhetorical impact, so take it as you will.

'09: St. Mary's (27-7,#48); Georgetown (16-15, #58); Virginia Tech (19-15, #61); Davidson (27-8, #69); Northwestern (17-14, #78); Kentucky (22-14, #79)

'08: Dayton (23-11, #32); Illinois State (25-10, #33); Ole Miss (25-11, #48); Syracuse (21-14, #55); Stephen F. Austin (26-6, #64); IUPUI (26-7, #70)

'07: Air Force (26-9, #30); Missouri State (22-11, #36); Clemson (25-11, #46); Appalachian State (25-8, #62); DePaul (20-14, #68); Hofstra (22-10, #73)

'06: Missouri State (22-9, #21); Hofstra (26-7, #30); Cincinnati (21-13, #40); Colorado (20-10, #59); Louisiana Tech (20-13, #68); Temple (17-15, #74)

'05: Miami, OH (19-11, #39); Buffalo (23-10, #46); Rice (19-12, #59); Indiana (15-14, #60); Holy Cross (25-7, #66); Virginia (14-15, #80)

What have I proved? Nothing, really. Odds are, a 96-team tourney would let in some really deserving teams that get snubbed under the current arrangement, and then another handful of schools that have no business sharing the revenue will slip in before the worthy ones can bolt the door behind them.

I try to be aware of my place in history. I'm sure I could make a few phone calls right now and find someone of the older persuasion who would bitterly denounce the 64-team bracket as "too much," and advocate a return to the days when only conference champs got to go to the dance. The last thing I want to be is the old man grousing about the good old days.

Don't get me wrong. I love the tourney the way it is (Or, was. The play-in game kind of sucks, and you can get off my lawn!). I don't want it to balloon in my lifetime, but I also loved my six-million-dollar man lunchbox, G.I. Joe with a Kung-Fu Grip, KABOOM cereal, and a few other things that have gone the way of the Dodo over the past few decades. Everything changes, nothing lasts, and the center cannot hold. We deal.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stick my head in the oven. It's a damn shame it's an electric.