Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: NC State's run likely to spark more tournament expansion talk

Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Ben Middlebrooks (34)
Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Ben Middlebrooks (34) / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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N.C. State’s improbable run to Phoenix is the latest in the list of improbable runs in the NCAA Tournament, a feat that has become much more probable over the last 20 years. The run is also likely to spark another round of debates this summer about whether or not to expand the Big Dance beyond the current 68 teams. To steal a line from another sporting event, debating NCAA Tournament expansion is a tradition unlike any other.

Although the potential expansion of the tournament has many working parts, the two sides of the coin are as clear as night and day. One side is the traditionalists who don’t want the tournament touched in any way shape or form, in fact, some even advocate going back to the 64-team format. The pro-expansion side would like to see more teams in the tournament because among other things, every year there are worthy teams that are left out of the field and people are left wondering why one team got in over another.

I believe there is a middle ground in this debate where we can keep the sanctity of the tournament we know and love while also expanding to allow more teams to participate. I don’t believe tournament expansion is wrong, I think it could benefit the sport if done correctly. I think the biggest reason people are against expansion isn’t the fear of losing what we’ve all grown to love or the expansion itself, but the reasoning behind it.

This is where I agree that expanding the NCAA Tournament isn’t a bad idea, but the reasons being suggested by some for doing so are. Recently both SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo made comments that added fuel to the expansion fire.