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  1. #1
    Sixth Man
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    Should the NCAA Div I MBB Field by Expanded or Shrunk? Either would distribute tale


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    Since there is nothing of consequence happening in the USA in the world of athletics, I thought I would pose a question that might get some discussion. The motivation for this thread is my BOREDOM with the NCAA tourney as it is currently constituted. I start to tune out when the regular season ends, because of the inherent inequity of what follows the MVC Tourney.

    Of course, there is ZERO chance the field would ever shrink back to where each conference got a single entry into the NCAA. But go back in time to those days when a team had to earn an entry into the tourney by winning its regular season championship. Then the ACC changed things by starting its tourney and making it extremely meaningful to its fans, and eventually, the media, by sending its tourney champion.
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    Those early days were "one and done" for each loser. The season ended abruptly no matter how great a year you had. There was drama in that which is totally lacking now within the high bid leagues.

    I did some digging and in the years 1958-1977, there were obviously 120 final four spots. Of those 32 were occupied by teams that did not come from established "Power Conferences" we recognized today. Of course there was no "Big East" at that time and teams like Cincinnati and Louisville, Utah and St. Joe's, were just teams in the wild, parity world of college basketball. The field was small, from 16-28 teams.

    The field grows to 64 and then 68 teams and the results are -

    From 2000-2019, of the 120 spots, only 7 have been occupied by teams from outside the Power 5 FB conferences and The Big East (G. Mason, Butler twice, VCU, WSU, Gonzaga, and Loyola of Chicago). The expansion of the tourney and the flooding of the field with Power Conference Teams has led to a confluence of talent in those leagues and a consequent drop in the number of outsiders who make the Final Four.

    So: Should the field be dropped to Conference Champions Only? Would this result in a return to a more logical conference alignment with 8-10 teams per league and more leagues? Would we see a distribution of talent among the 32 leagues (or perhaps as many as 40 leagues) and the entry of one team per league? Kids want to play in the Tourney and if going to Prairie View A&M is the best chance to get there, then the recruiting at Prairie View and many other schools will sky rocket and that at 5-6 middling schools in the Power leagues will drop back to the levels of the 1960's-70's.

    OR Conversely, for those who loved the one class IHSAA Boys basketball tourney, should every single team that is Div I be in the tourney? If the IHSAA tourney was fair to pit Freedom with 49 students in the same field as Ben Davis with 3000+, then it must be fair to allow any D1 school with the same number of scholarships and recruiting rights to be in the field.

    384 schools can be accommodated in 64 sites across the country. Imagine a field with the top two teams being seeded and getting byes and the other four playing on day 1. In Indianapolis at Bankers' Life FH: Butler would have had a bye, and lots of arguments about who among a 19-11 IU, 18-11 ISU and Whatever PU had for a record for that second bye, but everyone, along with IUPUI and Ball State is there to settle it on the court. It would be a madhouse and there would actually be 3000+ ISU fans attend instead of the few hundred who go to St. Louis. Winning that local round of 64 would be a worthy goal. The gym would be electric I imagine, like the HS sectionals of old. Everyone except the IU fans would be rooting for IUPIU or BSU against IU. Similarly for when ISU took PU apart.

    The biggest issue I see is the co-location of schools like UNC/Duke/NC State. They will moan about one of them being knocked out early and having to play such a tough opponent.

    A big positive would be bringing the game back to the fans: minimizing travel and overnight stays.

    Some examples:
    Chicago Site: Loyola, Northwestern, Notre Dame, DePaul, UIC, perhaps NIU or Marquette. NIU would probably be better
    Milwaukee or somewhere in Wisc/Mn: Marquette, UWGB, UW Madison, Minn, UW Milwaukee, and someone else


    I much prefer the completely open tournament as inherently more fair and as a tool to distribute talent more equally. PLayers will decide on a school based more on the major, the coach and the school itself rather than the incumbent advantages the Power Leagues have in the current set up.

    Thoughts?

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    Doesn't 4x20=80?

    My first two rules would be that you have to be better than 1 game above .500 in your conference and there would be some required number of road games against other conferences.

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    Supporting Member 4Q_iu's Avatar
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    Some would argue that the current conference tournaments act, in a sense, like the sectionals of a pre-1997 Indiana HS bball tournament. Now that the big ten, pac-12 and ivy league have established tournaments, that all NCAA teams have access to the tournament...

    Some speculate that by moving to a 128-team tourney, no deserving team would be left out.
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    All-Conference Sycamorefan96's Avatar
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    I'd go to 128 and give every conference 2 automatic bids: one for the regular season champ and one for the tournament champ. If the same team wins both then the conference can decide how they want to give out the second one (either to tourney runner up or 2nd place regular season).

    I would also be perfectly fine with letting every single team into the tournament. That would be a lot of fun actually.
    Last edited by Sycamorefan96; 03-15-2020 at 06:06 PM.

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    Sixth Man
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    Sorry. My error.
    I started with the intention to do the 30 years prior to the expansion of the tourney and the thirty most recent years; however, I just switched to 20 years w/o adjusting my thinking. In any event, the count is now 32 out of 80 spots which only strengthens the argument that the talent was more distributed and the results more unpredictable.

    And concerning the comment that conference tournaments function like pre-1998 sectionals, that is only true if the Power Leagues were limited to the tourney champ being the only team advancing. There is no similarity to that when the top three teams in any of these leagues can coast thru their tourney w/o consequences of significance.

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    Supporting Member 4Q_iu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DyedBlue View Post
    Since there is nothing of consequence happening in the USA in the world of athletics, I thought I would pose a question that might get some discussion. The motivation for this thread is my BOREDOM with the NCAA tourney as it is currently constituted. I start to tune out when the regular season ends, because of the inherent inequity of what follows the MVC Tourney...

    I did some digging and in the years 1958-1977, there were obviously 120 final four spots. Of those 32 were occupied by teams that did not come from established "Power Conferences" we recognized today. Of course there was no "Big East" at that time and teams like Cincinnati and Louisville, Utah and St. Joe's, were just teams in the wild, parity world of college basketball. The field was small, from 16-28 teams.

    The field grows to 64 and then 68 teams and the results are -

    From 2000-2019, of the 120 spots, only 7 have been occupied by teams from outside the Power 5 FB conferences and The Big East (G. Mason, Butler twice, VCU, WSU, Gonzaga, and Loyola of Chicago). The expansion of the tourney and the flooding of the field with Power Conference Teams has led to a confluence of talent in those leagues and a consequent drop in the number of outsiders who make the Final Four.

    ...I much prefer the completely open tournament as inherently more fair and as a tool to distribute talent more equally. Players will decide on a school based more on the major, the coach and the school itself rather than the incumbent advantages the Power Leagues have in the current set up.

    Thoughts?

    a lot to digest but part of the equation that you omitted, forgot or overlooked is scholarship reduction...

    remember there was a time at the "height" of the NCAA when MBB was allowed 15 scholarships, not 13 as today

    subtract 2 from JUST the "recognized power 5 confs of today" and that's 128 scholies floating around at the high-mid, mid-mid and low-mid majors

    go further and some would argue that hundreds of players AREN'T playing college ball b/c that scholie reduction just keeps rolling downhill to Div II, NAIA and theoretically pushes kids into JC and Div III ball...


    and when you mention Cincinnati and Louisville -- MOST of Cincinnati's success in that era came as a Missouri Valley member as well as some of Louisville's -- Louisville arguably became a "national power" in the Metro conference but Crum, Peck and Hickman had NCAA and NIT success as a Valley member
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    Hey Dyedblue, how did you pick the years for the two sample periods? I know that in 1976 they were already putting multiple teams from a conference in the ncaa tournament (iu, michigan). The ncaa also stated after that tournament that they wouldn't place teams from the same conference in opposite sides of the bracket again. They didn't want a repeat of the all big 10 final.
    Last edited by sycamore tuff; 03-16-2020 at 01:05 AM.

  10. #8
    Sixth Man
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    The NCAA was not clearly the preeminent tournament before the late 1950's as the NIT was equal or superior in status prior to that time. So, I arbitrarily picked 1958 as a starting point because it would give me a good 20 year period when the field was much smaller (22-25 from 1953-1968, 25 from 1969-1974 and 32 from 1975-1978) AND for most of that period only conference champions were in the field (prior to 1975) and then only a very few at large bids for independents and super highly ranked losers in their conference tourneys.

    On the back end, I chose 2000-2019 because the field had reached 64 fifteen years earlier and effects on recruiting and concentration of talent in Power 5 leagues was accomplished by that time. Over that period, the field has only modestly increased to 68.

    Opening the tournament to all D1 teams would, I expect, show a similar lag period as the talent redistributes.


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