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ACC commish calls for NCAA basketball tournament expansion: ‘The time is now’

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips is calling for an expansion of both the women’s and men’s NCAA basketball tournaments.

“The time is now,” Phillips said Wednesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s annual preseason basketball event.

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ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips chats during the football game between Notre Dame and North Carolina on Oct. 30, 2021, in South Bend, Indiana.
(Matt Cashore-USA Today Sports)

Phillips has some tangible influence in any potential expansion because he is a member of the NCAA Division I Transformation Committee.

“The time is now as we’re looking at the overall structure of the NCAA, and one of their responsibilities has been championships. So, I’m in favor of looking at it, and I really would like us to expand,” Phillips said.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during a news conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20, 2022.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during a news conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

The NCAA basketball tournaments continue to be very popular, and Phillips even called them a “crown jewel.” He wants to keep some of the tournaments’ elements intact, such as the automatic qualifiers.

As far as changes go, Phillips wants a larger field for at-large berths.

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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has previously been on record about taking a “fresh look” at the structure of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

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Phillips argued that expanding the at-large field for college basketball tournaments would create more opportunities for programs across the board.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during a news conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20, 2022.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during a news conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 20, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

“Those AQs [automatic qualifiers] matter,” Phillips added. “That’s part of the broad-based opportunities we have in Division I sports, the lower resource conferences and the higher resource conferences can all gain access.

In their current forms, the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments are both made up of 68 teams. The 32 conference champions automatically qualify.

Currently, commissioners and organizers of the College Football Playoff are working to expand the field for football.

In September, the College Football Board of Managers voted to expand to a 12-team playoff, beginning in 2026.

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Since the inception of the playoffs in 2014, the SEC has dominated. A member of the conference has won five of the eight CFP national championships.

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