NEW YORK (KDKA/AP) – As the NCAA prepares for March Madness, they have put off talks about any expansion of the tournament for another time.
Last year, the NCAA announced that it would add three more teams to the 65-team tournament. This year’s tournament will see the first expansion in 10 years. The NCAA last expanded the tournament from 64 teams to 65 in 2001.
When the league made the announcement of the 68-team tournament, it went against what many coaches and school administrators were hoping for, a 96-team tournament.
That’s not to say there won’t be more teams joining the tournament in the future.
NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen told The Associated Press on Tuesday that there has been no more discussion about expansion, but conceded that “It’s always on the list of topics.”
“We’re always going to be looking at what’s the best way to contest the championship,” Shaheen said. “Sixty-eight is certainly a start, and where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.”
Selection Sunday is this on March 13 with the first pair of double-header games beginning on March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio.
Two games will match the lowest seeds, Nos. 65 through 68, with the winners advancing as No. 16 seeds to play a top seed. The other two games will match the last four of the 37 at-large qualifiers.
Besides carving out three additional spots for at-large teams, Shaheen said one of the objectives of the “First Four” model was to build tension early in the tournament. Bubble teams from major conferences, such as Michigan State and Boston College, could find themselves playing mid-majors like Missouri State for the chance to make the traditional 64-team bracket.
“When you’re hearing a discussion about bubble teams, you’re hearing a discussion about the ‘First Four,’” Shaheen said. “When you’re talking about who gets in, who gets out, that’s who you’re talking about, and that’s part of the reason we did it.”