Expansion talk's crazy, but here's one way to adjust NCAA tourney
Any coach or administrator who wants to expand the NCAA tournament to 96 teams should be forced to sit down and construct
Here's a quick solution:
• Borrow from European soccer and link the NCAA tournament and NIT. Take the 32 first-round NCAA losers and add them to the 32 automatic bids and at-larges selected under existing protocol to create a new 64-team NIT.
• Announce the new NIT bracket on the Saturday at the start of the NCAA second round. Play the first two weeks on the Monday and Wednesday following the corresponding rounds of the NCAA. Play the Final Four on the Wednesday and Friday after the NCAA Final Four, to avoid the women's title game and end before weekend coverage of the Masters.
• Have the top four seeds in each region host pods. Highest seed remaining in each region hosts the pods on the second weekend. Final Four remains at Madison Square Garden.
Why it works:
• The event is much deeper and more competitive, with 32 extra games for TV. Result for NCAA and its TV partner(s): $$$.
• Four programs get to host up to four more home games. Twelve others would have one or two extra home dates, plus all hosts get a take from the pod's other games. Result for them: $$$.
• High seeds who get upset in the NCAAs don't have a terrific season crushed in one night. Meanwhile, the 15- and 16-seeds get an extra postseason game they actually might have a chance to win.
• The integrity of the NCAA tournament is retained, as we don't add 32 more teams that would pollute the event with mediocre play and have to suffer through first-round 9 vs. 24 games.
• Solves the fan question of whether you'd want to be one-and-done in the NCAAs or win the NIT. Now you could do both.
So, we all agree this would rock? Cool. Now if we could just get rid of the silly play-in game ... Anyway, on to the Bubble Watch.
The Blue Devils picked up a pair of 20-point home wins and continue to push for a No. 1 seed. The pecking order behind them in the league, though, got a shuffle this week.
Lose at Georgia, beat Duke, lose at Virginia, win at UNC? That's what happens when you have two frosh and a soph in your top four scorers, like
Maybe it wasn't so silly to have some reservations about North Carolina
Losing at home to N.C. State is a disappointment for
A frantic final-minute rally couldn't save
Last week, Miami's
Special BW exemption alert!
You don't need to wait for Kansas-Texas for a UFC-style manhood check in the Big 12. Just tune in at 9 p.m. ET tonight when Texas heads into the octagon of K-State's Bramlage Coliseum. The league continues to have two clear No. 1 NCAA seeds and K-State is a protected seed, too. After that? It's still very open.
A split at Texas Tech and Oklahoma? Privately,
An overtime loss at home to Missouri coupled with a blowout defeat at Kansas pushes
As thanks for making
Pitt's incredible Big East run continues. In their last four games, the Panthers have won at Syracuse, at Cincinnati, at UConn and at home over Louisville. That is so impressive in this league. Pitt's surge into the lock category ices five bids for the league, and with turmoil in other conferences big and small, bids will be there to be grabbed by the middle of the Beast.
After a home loss to Pitt and a damaging road loss at Michigan on Sunday,
If it's possible for a two-loss week not to be totally discouraging,
It seems incongruous to have four Big East teams and none of the three below in this category, but there have been a few more wobbles from this group. They'll all, with virtual certainty, be solid seeds in the NCAAs. It's just more fun to write a few more words ...
Purdue's hopes of winning the Big Ten are in real trouble, though, with
After edging Washington State in Pullman,
The Cal win capped a convincing and crucial home weekend sweep for
The Wildcats remain the league's biggest story as they move toward a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, but Tennessee's surge despite all the legal issues is the most compelling current one. After that? There's room to roam.
It was far from easy, but
Let's just say that
There's no real separation yet behind (or even slightly in front) of the Owls, who remain perfect in the league. That should make upcoming tussles among the league's top flight very fun.
Temple's not the league leader right now -- although that could change when the Owls host
Yup, you read that right. It's 25 in a row at Xavier for
William & Mary continues to win, but with three other teams also just with one league loss, even the regular-season crown is far from a certainty for the terrific Tribe.
Two seven-point home wins over bottom-half teams keep things going for
After a trip to Delaware,
BYU continues to stand out as its pursuers continue to knock each other off. The race for second might be more interesting, as that team likely will be well positioned for an at-large to the NCAAs.
Even with decent quality at the top of this league, the regular-season race could be all but over Tuesday night, which is a tribute to Northern Iowa.
Siena (MAAC), Cornell and Harvard (Ivy), Western Carolina (SoCon), Louisiana Tech (WAC), Northern Colorado (Big Sky).