A 96-team NCAA basketball tournament wouldn't be excessive in the grand scheme of things
Greg Monroe and his Georgetown Hoyas improved their NCAA tournament standing via Thursday's upset of Syracuse. (Getty Images)
Jim Boeheim got us thinking.
Speaking in support of the NCAA tournament’s rumored expansion from 65 to 96 teams, the Syracuse coach told CNN this month: “There are 350 teams overall, so 96 is only a little over 25 percent.”
It turns out the actual proportion, 27.7 percent, is only slightly higher that baseball’s stingy postseason qualification (eight out of 30, or 26.7 percent), and about half of the percentages in the NHL and NBA (53.3 each). (See Triviality at right.)
(See Triviality No. 44 below.)
As Selection Sunday approaches, arguments against tournament expansion are numerous and legitimate: The NCAA just wants a more lucrative TV deal; expansion would remove major programs’ motivation to schedule tough regular-season opponents; the change would lengthen the tournament by a week and doom the NCAA-owned, tradition-rich NIT; mediocre major-conference teams, not deserving mid-major teams, would receive the extra bids.
But for a tournament that grew from eight teams in 1950 to 64 in 1984, the proportional argument is persuasive.
Boeheim again: “We had 250 teams when we expanded [from 48] to 64.” Now there are 347 Division I men’s basketball programs. The numbers don’t lie.
Max J. Dickstein is amNewYork’s sports editor.
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amNY Triviality: Percentage of teams or players that qualify for major playoff tournaments
(No. 44 in an occasional series; compiled by Justin Davidson and Max J. Dickstein)
15.7% FIFA World Cup (soccer) 32/204
16.1% NCAA Division I football championship: 20/124 (1)
18.7% NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournament: 65/347 (2)
20.1% NCAA women’s Division I basketball tournament: 65/324
21.4% Chase for the Sprint Cup (Nascar): 12/56 (3)
26.7% MLB postseason: 8/30
30.2% UEFA European Football Championship: 16/53 (4)
37.5% NFL playoffs: 12/32
41.6% UEFA Champions League: 32/77
50% Playoffs for the FedEx Cup (PGA): 125/250 (5)
50% MLS playoffs: 8/16
53.3% NBA playoffs: 16/30
53.3% NHL Stanley Cup playoffs: 16/30
(1) Known as NCAA Division I-AA football championship until 2006. The Football Championship Subdivision’s playoff tournament expands from 16 to 20 teams next season.
(2) A rumored expansion of the NCAA men’s tournament to 96 teams would result in a qualifying percentage of 27.7 (96/347).
(3) Nascar instituted the Chase in 2004 and expanded it from 10 to 12 drivers in 2007. Total Sprint Cup field varies.
(4) Euro 2016 will feature 24 teams.
(5) About 250 PGA Tour members accumulate FedEx Cup points during the course of a season (255 did so in 2009).