The NCAA has decided to expand — ever so slightly — the NCAA Basketball Tournament field, from 65 to 68 teams. Starting next year, there will be four “play-in” games instead of just one.
I suppose this is a compromise solution, between people who wanted an 80- or 96-team field and those who would prefer to leave the Tournament the way it is. I think making the Tournament much bigger would have been kind of silly, so I am glad the NCAA Board of Directors resisted that temptation. As it is, I kind of scratch my head at the arguments about whether a “bubble” team from a “power conference” that couldn’t even finish above .500 in conference play should make the Tournament. If you can’t even win a majority of the games in your conference, why should you be playing for the NCAA championship? For that same reason, I also like the NCAA Board’s idea of the play-in games not being limited to just small-conference teams. Why shouldn’t a “power conference” team or two have to play their way in, just like the small fry?
The linked article also notes that, in 2011, every game in the NCAA Tournament will be available for viewing, live, across the country. The games will be broadcast by CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV. That news will cause every sports fan to ask one question: “What the heck is truTV, and do I have it on my basic cable?”