NCAA basketball tournament 2010: More teams would make March Madness even better

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By Dan Steinberg
Monday, March 15, 2010

Wilbon's against it. Hamilton calls it "the worst idea in the history of sports ideas." Feinstein says it would defy common sense. And now Wise, too, is writing with dismay about the possibility of NCAA tournament expansion.

Yup, believe it or not, the old-timers are opposed to change.

Look, I could go either way on a 96-team field. But as someone who doesn't remember those bygone days when only 1 1/2 teams made the field, and young ruffians sneaked transistor radios under their comforters to listen to a glorious selection show untainted by corporate sponsors, and players had to walk uphill in both directions to get to tournament sites, and everyone liked it that way, I figured our readers deserved at least one reasonable look at the other side.

The regular season would be meaningless!!!!! Mediocrity would rule!!!!!

Division I baseball puts 21 percent of its teams into the postseason. Division I men's soccer so honors 24 percent of its teams. In Division I men's hockey, it's 28 percent. MLB puts 27 percent of its teams into the postseason. The NFL -- the most ridiculously successful sporting outfit in America -- rewards 38 percent of its teams.

Division I men's NCAA basketball is more selective than all of those organizations. Only 19 percent of its teams move on to the tournament. Even with expansion to 96 teams, only 28 percent of Division I schools would make the field. It would be almost as selective as the MLB playoffs, slightly less selective than Division I soccer and far more so than the NFL.

Expansion would ruin a perfect event!!!!!

"Never have more games been played for less purpose," thundered The Post's Ken Denlinger when the tournament expanded to its current number back in 1985. "Because 64 teams are allowed into the NCAA tournament, regular seasons are as watered as drinks in a cheap bar; conference tournaments are meaningful only to distressed teams hoping for a miracle."

"Are you sure a 64-team tournament isn't a little too large? Like about 32 teams too large?" the Los Angeles Times's Mark Heisler asked then.

"These days, with 64 teams in the field, if you aren't an NCAA tournament team, you have to be pretty bad," observed Feinstein, who, 25 years later, now defends a 64-team field as "the perfect number."

The arguments were exactly the same. And 64 teams turned out to be as fantabulous as a cheap bar, an unprecedented boon for college hoops. Who's to say more wouldn't be better again?

The first round would be a mishmash of awful teams!!!!! No one would care!!!!!


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