By Bo Fisher
NCAA talk to expand March Madness bracket leaves fans, commentators at odds
Just when sports fans thought that the achievement of a perfect bracket, or at least a decent one, could not get any more difficult, the NCAA found a way to do just that. Fans, athletes and coaches around the world are raving over the discussion of a possible expansion in the March Madness bracket, which would increase up to a 96-team field.
Some spectators are angry, some are excited and some are simply confused as to why the NCAA would feel the need to toy with their beloved March Madness bracket. According to Emily Steel’s March 9 article, “CBS’s $6 Billion NCAA Wager Isn’t Dead Yet,” from The Wall Street Journal, the tournament generates more than $6 billion for CBS alone over the duration of its 11-year contract with the NCAA.
The tournament last expanded in 2001 with the addition of one team, making it the current 65-team field. NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen promised that nothing has been decided yet, despite the fact that Shaheen has already mapped out a mock of what the tournament would look like if expanded.
The seed ranks would descend to a low of 24 while teams with a seed rank from one to eight would receive a first-round bye. For example, in the first round, if the higher seeded team were to win each game, then the second round would look exactly like the current bracket does with the one seed playing the 16 seed, the two seed playing the 15 seed, and so on.
With the possibility of an expansion growing, basketball fans across the country seem to be against this dramatic change. In an April 19 CBS poll of 4,907 people, 84 percent voted to stick with the current 65-team tournament.
While the majority of the country seems to be against the dramatic change, senior Michael Rice said he thinks the expansion would make the tournament more enjoyable.
“I think the tournament would be more interesting with more teams,” Rice said.
Junior Patrick Magill, who said he has been filling out March Madness brackets for eight years now, had similar views to Rice.
“I think it would make the regular season less competitive,” Magill said. “But it would be a better tournament.”
With an extra round and an additional eight teams per region, some will argue that the expansion could add more excitement, while others insist on not tampering with an already-perfect tournament. Expanded or not, sports fans will always be back for another month filled with madness.