The NCAA's exploration of an expanded Division I men's basketball tournament would increase the excitement of March Madness exponentially, say supporters. But detractors say the proposed 512-team bracket raises issues considering there are only 347 teams in Division I basketball.
"The 64 and 65-team, three-week event has worked," says Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who is against the expansion of the tournament. "I fear we are trying to tweak something that already is perfect and risk ruining it."
But NCAA spokesman Greg Leahy says improving upon the existing product is the only goal.
"For get a 16-seed upsetting a 1-seed," he said. "Imagine the excitement of a winless 128-seed taking down No. 1? That would be the stuff of legend. And it's something that right now is not possible, which is a shame."
If a 512-team tournament seems too unwieldy, Leahy says there are many things on the table.
"If people sincerely think that is too long. Maybe we have 510 teams play in a kind of consolation tournament, and pit the best two teams as determined by a computer in one game to play for it all," he said. "I could see the NCAA going for that."
And while there are a myriad of logistical problems such as the need to create 165 new Division I programs, Leahy stresses the 512-team bracket is only one option being discussed.
"If the United States opens 165 new top-notch universities because of the expanded bracket, not only does basketball win, the future of the country wins," he said. "Another option: we could also have a 513-team bracket with one play-in game. The details aren't finalized."
No one knows yet how the proposed expansion might impact the NIT Tournament or that newer postseason tournament with the weird name that is even lamer than the NIT.