NCAA Tournament To Possibly Expand Tournament Field To 68 Teams

April 23rd, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

There was discussion during the 2010 NCAA Tournament that an expansion of the tournament field was all but inevitable, with only question being how many teams would be added?

The answer seemed to be an addition of 32 teams to expand the field to 96, but that may have fallen by the wayside.

The NCAA has made the announcement of their aspiration to take the field from 65 teams to 68 teams.  They made this public during an announcement that the march tournament and CBS and Turner Broadcasting reached a new deal that is worth $10.8 billion, and will now show every game in the tournament live.

It had been a goal of the NCAA to work out a plan to bring every game of the tournament live to viewers.  The plan was passed unanimously by the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

“It was a goal from the very, very beginning, and I believe it’s what our memberships want and it’s what our fans want across the country,” NCAA President Jim Isch said. “I think without question, it was one of the driving factors in our position and why CBS and Turner make such great partners.”

“We are very comfortable with 68, that’s what the deal is based on and it meets all our financial needs and programming needs,” remarked Sean McManus, who is the president of CBS News and Sports.

The tournament last expanded in 2001, with the edition of the play-in game that took the field from 64 teams, to 65.  The field had been situated at 64 teams since 1985.

“As coaches, we’ve been strongly in favor of expansion,” remarked the National Association of Basketball Coaches executive director Jim Haney said. “I think 68 would be comfortably welcomed by all.”

Those sentiments were echoed by several of the coaches throughout the country.

“As a coach I’d like to see more people get in, but 68 is a good step and the easiest way to have the least amount of turmoil,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “There’s really no way to do a little bit bigger expansion. You can’t expand by eight, 10. There’s no way to figure that out. This is the easiest way, and hopefully down the road there will be a bigger expansion.”

Coach of the 2010 national champion Duke Blue Devils, Mike Krzyzewski, shared similar thoughts.

“With the addition of three more teams to the field, the basic structure of the tournament will not be impacted significantly in the foreseeable future,” he said. “As a coach, I am very pleased with this result.”

The Blue Devils defeated Butler in the 2010 championship game to win the school’s fourth title in history.  They were the only No.1 seed to advance in the tournament, and USA Online Sportsbooks installed them as a betting favorite prior to their run.

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