Ruining a masterpiece

The new NCAA Tournament expansion is great for television companies and corporate executives but disheartening for everyone else.

Brady Klein

We may soon be living in a world where the University of North Carolina is selected into the NCAA Basketball Tournament finishing 16-16 in the regular season and 5-11 in their conference. During the week preceding this season’s Final Four, NCAA executives unveiled a proposed plan to increase the size of the tournament field.

If the new expansion is passed, 96 teams similar to the under-achieving Tarheels would have a surprisingly good chance of making it to the tourney, despite their disappointing seasons.

The new plan idea released by Greg Shaheen, senior Vice President of NCAA Basketball and Business Strategies, states that the tournament will include 68, 72, or 96 teams instead of the traditional 65. The top eight seeds from each bracket will receive a first-round bye. The committee wants to avoid forcing the student-athletes to miss extra school, so they are adding three games a week instead of two. This system will only be for the teams who do not receive byes. Everyone else who plays after the first round will play the regular 64-seed schedule.

March Madness is the best postseason in all of sports because it involves a bunch of great teams going out and showing the country what they’re made of. In college basketball there are 347 teams in Division 1. To make the tournament, a team needs to be in the top 18th percentile in the country. If there is an expansion, that will be increased by nearly 10%. This isn’t an outstanding increase, but it does re-draw the line of the true best teams in the league. In short, it will be less of an elite core of teams because teams with 17-15 records might get in.

By the end of this season’s tournament, CBS had earned $37 million in advertising. It’s a relatively small profit, but it increased by nearly 20 percent from last year. And it was a profit nonetheless. They made money so why change anything? Why does the tournament need to expand? It’s obviously to make more cash, but it isn’t necessary or fair. Is the NCAA really so greedy that they just want more and more money while the players, coaches and fans suffer? If anything, the players should even be paid. It would never happen, but without these hardworking young kids, CBS would have made nothing at all.
The fact of the matter is that everyone in the television world is just after money, so they are willing to exploit athletes for their own pleasure.

The teams playing in the first round will be completely drained of their energy if they advance onto the next round. They will have almost a zero percent chance of going far, which will make the first round just like the NIT but with no trophy. Once these feeble teams hit the fresh juggernauts in the later rounds, they’ll get destroyed, unless they have a close relationship with God himself. And even then a victory is unlikely.

So far a decision has not been made either way; a vote will likely happen within the next couple of months. If passed, the plan may not go into effect next season. In fact, it could be up to five years or more for the plan to go into action. Even though I am completely against this idea, I have little hope that it will not be passed.

It really doesn’t seem fair. The majority of all the fans want the tournament to stay the same. Some of the athletes have even made their statements about why it should stay the same. In fact, around our area, many people have given personal reasons on why nothing should be changed. I could not agree more. This tournament seems perfect, so why mess it up. It is like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa; it really makes no sense. Although it all comes down to who the committee will listen to: the fans or their own wallets.