Why stop at 96? Selig says tournament could fit 128 (or more)

There’s no better place to hear the latest buzz about the men’s NCAA Tournament potentially expanding to 96 teams than Indianapolis, home of the NCAA.

That’s where Athletics Director Wood Selig spent most of his week, working on the mock selection committee for the NCAA Tournament. And Selig said he knows that even an expanded field could still favor the depths of the “power-six conferences” rather than give second or third bids to the mid-major ranks.

“That’s always the concern whether it’s a 64-team field or a 96 or 128,” Selig said. “What are the opportunities for schools from outside of the big-six conferences?”

So Selig asked, why stop at just 96 teams?

“I’ve always been in favor of a larger field,” Selig said. “President Ransdell and myself have thought that perhaps 128 or even 265 would be a nice-sized field and wouldn’t necessitate a lot more time. I think the more you can get into the tournament, you take something that’s already great and make it even greater.”

The other buzz this week revolves around the Big 10 Conference’s potential expansion. Selig said he wasn’t close enough to the Big 10’s inner circle to offer insight about what may happen (Pittsburgh is a rumored candidate), but should the dominoes begin to fall, things could affect Western.

The current Conference USA or MAC could be considered as a move up, but Selig said that doesn’t make sense when the region’s mid-major conferences could instead reconstruct themselves completely.

“It may just be a redistribution of schools that make better geographic sense for — maybe it’s a variety of conferences,” Selig said. “Maybe it’s the MAC, Conference USA and the Sun Belt. We all fly over each other’s teams to get to our own conference members, and at some point you just have to ask yourself why. Isn’t there not a better alignment of schools from those three conferences that might help reduce travel costs, increase natural rivalries and create more fan interest?”

Jonathan Lintner

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