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Kyle Decker: 64's Company, 128's a Crowd

As soon as this week, coaches will petition the NCAA to expand the college basketball playoff field by doubling it from 64 to 128. Their reasoning is to include more mid-major teams, hopefully create more Cinderella stories, and avoid good schools getting the shaft.

Unfortunately, they didn't think about how this'll take the excitement out of March.


Let me start of by saying that I graduated from the University of Maryland, a school that hasn't made the tournament in the last two years. Maryland would easily have made it in a field of 128. School allegience aside, this is a bad idea.

The Madness of March doesn't start during the tip-off of the play-in game of the tournament. It starts weeks before. A huge chunk of the excitement around March is wondering which bubble teams will make it and which won't. Double the field, they're all in. In fact, if the field is doubled, there isn't any reason why power house conferences such as the ACC and the Big East couldn't get their entire conference in the tournament on a good year.

Right now, every conference game is as hard fought as possible. With every school that's half decent almost guaranteed a bid into the field of 128, the excitement of regular season play will be removed. February games that are must-wins will become who-cares. That's unfair to the fans. If they wanted games where the players aren't completely focused and giving it their all, they could watch the NBA.

Conference tournaments are a crucial aspect of the Madness. Teams on the bubble or even completely out of it have a chance to sneak their way into the tournament. Again, with major conferences sending possibly 90% of their teams to the field, that excitement is lost.

This move is pretty much a plan to try to create some more of the Cinderella magic mid-major George Mason showed by beating some top teams (such as UConn, Michigan State, and North Carolina-- all teams that have won it all in the last 7 years) to make it to the Final Four. Unfortunately, doubling the field will not recreate this magic. The first round will include a lot of bad mid-major teams that cannot keep up with teams that play tough schedules year-round. If anything, the extra round will only hurt these Cinderella teams' chances because they aren't conditioned to play tough games for as long as teams from really tough conferences.

In a recent ESPN.com article, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has suggested adding 3-7 more teams, adding 3 or 4 play-in games as opposed to one. This may be a fair solution to sneak in teams that don't quite deserve to be there. However, watching a team get snubbed is all part of the Madness of March.

Plus, I really don't want to fill out a 128-team bracket.