The NCAA tournament last expanded in 2011 when the field increased by four to 68 teams. That’s when Dayton started hosting the First Four.
There had been talking then of going further than 68 teams. The possibility of expanding to 96 teams was talked about in 2010. The late Charlie Coles, then the Miami RedHawks coach, would have supported that change.
“The more the merrier,” Coles told the Journal News in 2010. “It’s all about the college athletes, the kids, and the more athletes that can get into the tournament and have that experience, the happier they will be.”
That’s one argument for expansion. Baylor’s Scott Drew, whose team won a national championship in 2021, would support a 128-team field.
“I know that sounds like a lot,” Drew told ESPN. “But everybody (would have) to win seven games, so it’s just one additional game. But really, this is why: I think there is great parity and you look in football: about half the teams get to go to the postseason.”
Plenty of national columnists have written about the cons of expanding the tournament in recent weeks.
“Coaches want a bigger tournament because, well, it’s then easier to get in (and they get bonus money for it),” wrote Dan Wetzel, of Yahoo.com. “Administrators want a bigger tournament because it will increase revenue. Television executives want a bigger tournament because it will generate more viewers for the daytime blocks on truTV. That doesn’t mean the sport needs it.”
John Feinstein argued against expansion in the Washington Post.
“I’ve often said the NCAA tournament is so good that even the NCAA and its TV “partners” can’t ruin it,” Feinstein wrote. “Games now routinely take close to 2½ hours; there are 10 three-minute TV timeouts per game; there are 20-minute halftimes and middle-of-the-night tipoffs. And yet, we remain riveted. Expansion won’t kill the NCAA tournament, but it will make it a lot less fun. The shark hasn’t been jumped yet, but it is looming in the distance.”
DAYTON SEASON PREVIEW
Part 1: Fans dream big as always
Part 2: A-10 changes tournament format for first time in years
Part 3: A familiar face returns to A-10
Part 4: KenPom.com’s math likes the Flyers
Part 5: Three new walk-ons join roster
Part 6: Grant, Martin don’t look forward to coaching against each other
Part 7: Ranking difficulty of non-conference opponents
Part 8: Free-throw percentage a stat to watch for Flyers
Part 9: UD roster again full of international talent
Part 10: Ranking quality of exempt tournaments
Part 11: How Grant’s first six teams compare
Part 12: The rising star of DaRon Holmes II
Part 13: How rare is returning five starters?