Busting Brackets

What would a 96-team tournament look like this year?

Analysts Rece Davis, from left, Andrea Carter, Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg, and Jay Bilas during ESPN's College Gameday.
Analysts Rece Davis, from left, Andrea Carter, Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg, and Jay Bilas during ESPN's College Gameday. / Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we approach March Madness, talks of a 96-team bracket are circulating through the rumor mill. Over the weekend, College Gameday talents debated the pros and cons of an expansion to yet another NCAA postseason tournament.

With the current standings in men’s college basketball, 96 teams receiving a ticket to the tournament would completely upend the reason there’s a tournament in the first place: The best teams get a chance and the other teams don’t.

Having teams like Miami and LSU be a part of the discussion only proves that there is no need for an expansion.

So what would a 96-team tournament look like if the expansion got pushed through this season?

The current bubble watch teams would be vying for one of the mid-major-at-large spots in the bracket – yes, it already sounds ridiculous.

Who would be in and who would still be out?

With the expansion, teams like Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Butler, and Utah – who are currently projected to be one of the first teams out – would have a chance to make the tournament.

It would also expand the bracket to possibly include Villanova, Colorado, Cincinnati, and Drake – who aren’t actively projected to make the tournament either.

The First Four round, which narrows the tournament pool from 68 to 64 teams currently, would either have to be expanded or entirely changed.

These teams would make up spots 65-96 in the tournament, adding 50 percent to the already existing bracket structure. Already, March Madness lasts a week past March and bleeds into April.

An additional 32 teams would add an entirely extra round and therefore easily add another week to the already grueling postseason schedule.

Many athletic departments are vying for the extension so that their teams, who they feel have been unfairly left out of tournaments in the past, would get their chance at the main dance. However, some of them would still be left out even with the proposed expansion (i.e. Miami).

Let’s keep in mind that there is already a secondary tournament in the postseason – the NIT, which has exactly 32 spots.

The NCAA Tournament is comprised of the 68 best teams in the nation, out of the 351 schools which make up the Division I scene.

Most fans are arguing the expansion is a ploy for more money to be funneled in the NCAA’s direction, much like the College Football Playoffs.

My stance on the 96-team tournament is that it would allow teams to continue their season even though their overall record is barely above .500. In other words, I think that you have to do something impressive (have an incredible season) to make the tournament.

The NCAA shouldn’t hand out participation trophies.