On Wednesday, the ACC’s 15 men’s basketball coaches voted unanimously to support a bold change to the NCAA Tournament for the 2020-21 season. With all of the uncertainty around the upcoming season, and the disruptions made to sports in general, the influential group proposed a tournament that includes every single Division I team for the year.
People came down on either side of the idea, which has been publicly defended by the likes of Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. Some like the pure craziness of it, and the idea to have a full celebration of basketball in March. Others raise the increased public health concerns it would present, among other things.
A 350+ team tournament wouldn’t totally render the regular season useless, of course. The top teams are already playing for seeding anyway, and that doesn’t necessarily take away from the excitement of the regular season for die-hard college hoops fans. However, this idea may also not be necessary to achieve the goal that the ACC coaches are looking for.
With winner-take-all conference tournaments, some of which are all-inclusive already, we have a less-direct version of an “every team tournament” already. And while this idea would add a ton of content for the NCAA’s television partners at CBS and Turner, many of those early games would be quite bad. Unsurprisingly, the NCAA says it is not considering something like this.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) September 10, 2020
Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, has signaled that the organization is very confident in pulling off college basketball season and an NCAA Tournament. As currently constituted, the event lends itself to a bubble situation relatively well.
Adding almost 300 more teams to the event would present numerous challenges in the best of times. Given the likelihood that we’re still dealing with a pandemic in March, this probably isn’t worth it, even for the benefits it may provide to those smaller athletic departments that are likely facing significant economic fallout this year.
In any case, we hope we have some form of the NCAA Tournament this year. Losing the 2020 edition was a brutal moment for all sports fans.