Busting Brackets

These are the worst teams that would get into a 96-team NCAA tournament

College basketball is itching to expand the NCAA Tournament for a big money grab, like the expanded College Football Playoff, but just how bad would a 96-team tournament actually be?

Marquette Golden Eagles guard Stevie Mitchell (4)
Marquette Golden Eagles guard Stevie Mitchell (4) / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

We’re now well into the month of March with many of the conference tournaments underway and the hot topic surrounding both college basketball and college football is expansion. In college football that means going from a four-team playoff to 12 and eventually to 14, but in college basketball that could mean taking the 68-team field that makes up the most miraculous postseason in sports, and ballooning it to 96. 

The conversation has been floated for a while, but it really kicked into high gear when Jay Williams brought it up on ESPN’s College Gameday prior to the matchup between Villanova and UConn back on February 24. 

I’m here to say, never touch my March Madness. The month of March is the most perfect month of sports and for those who want more, I’d like to introduce you to the 32 conference tournaments going on from now until Selection Sunday when the Big Ten crowns its champion. The madness doesn't start when the Round of 64 tips off on Thursday, March 21 or with the First Four in Dayton, it's already started with conference tournaments.

That’s how we decide which teams get into the big dance and with a 96-team tournament, college basketball, like every other sport that continues to expand its postseason, would devalue its regular season and dilute its most valuable product. 

March Madness is the most exciting postseason in sports because nearly every team has a chance to make a deep run. The teams that we’d let into the tournament if it was a 96-team field, just simply aren’t good enough to give us a compelling first round. 

The men's basketball 96-team bubble

Right now, Joe Lunardi’s “last four in” are Seton Hall, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Those teams rank 63rd, 26th, 50th, and 42nd in the Net Rankings and 56th, 36th, 67th, and 27th in Kenpom respectively. 

Sure, those are some respectable teams, but the bubble for a 96-team tournament would look something like this. 

Last four in: 

  • LSU (Net: 89 Kenpom: 90)
  • NC State (Net: 83 Kenpom: 78)
  • Loyola Chicago (Net: 88 Kenpom: 94)
  • Yale (Net: 81 Kenpom: Kenpom: 79)

First four out: 

  • VCU (Net: 80 Kenpom: 91)
  • Penn State (Net: 96 Kenpom: 86)
  • Georgia (Net: 102 Kenpom: 93)
  • Louisiana Tech (Net 85 Kenpom: 80)

This group would produce some pretty abysmal first-round basketball games. The Ivy League would potentially be a three-bid league and LSU, which is 16-14 overall and 8-9 in the SEC with a loss to Nicholls on its resume, would be in the field. This LSU doesn’t deserve to play for a chance at a national championship, which people forget is the entire point of March Madness.

What would a 96-team tournament look like?. What would a 96-team tournament look like?. dark. Next