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.
These reporters and high school teachers are making Amir look bad.
Following the team's third loss in as many games, the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels (12-7) are reportedly prepared to access the program's emergency stockpile of McDonald's High School All-Americans in hopes of turning around a season that has them sliding out of the Top 25.
"Our strategic reserve of elite recruits is one of the reasons this is the greatest job in America," said head coach Roy Williams, who has seen his team lose three games in a row for the first time in his tenure at North Carolina. "No other program has this. We can access the stockpile, bolster our team, right the ship, and then worry about replenishing it again for the future."
Of the 35 High School All-Americans at Williams' disposal, only three will be tapped now: Roger Gilyard, a 6-foot-5 point guard who was Mr. Basketball in Mississippi; Roderick Purifoy, a 6-8 scoring swingman who picked UNC over Duke, Kansas and UConn; and Mason Digsby, an athletic 7-foot-2 center many project to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft when he declares.
The trio was not deemed necessary to UNC's success during preseason practices and therefore were placed in the emergency reserve. But with a bid to the NIT Tournament on the horizon, Williams and North Carolina are desperate.
"People forget how difficult it is to win in college basketball," says Williams. "Every night is a challenge. Having 50 McDonald's High School All-Americans at your disposal is not a magic ticket. There's more to it than just pushing them out onto the court to play. I know that now."
With the strategic reserve of All-Americans accessed and the season likely saved, the difficult job for Williams now is figuring out how to replenish the stockpile.
"We have interest from the top 250 high school players in the country," says Williams. "How do I cut that list down to just to best 50? Do I just take all the top rated ones? Or do I gamble on a few kids who are ranked in the sixties or seventies? That's where this job gets really tough. It keeps you up nights."
Going to a game? Need a sign to taunt the opposition? Can't think up anything good to write?
You're in luck!
Just e-mail SportsPickle, provide the name of your target, and you might just get back a list of sign-appropriate messages.
That's what this PITT fan did before the Panthers game against Louisville on Saturday and thanks completely to the message SportsPickle provided (and this fan's award-winning penmanship) PITT overcame a 5-point deficit with only 34 seconds remaining to win!
Try it out!
And if you take a picture of your sign at the game, it'll run on the site.
What do you have to lose? (Other than your sign and your tickets?)
"Sorry, bro. Still no room on the court for someone who is good at hitting free throws from an exercise bike."
The Pat Summitt era is over at Tennessee.
After talking to former Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin in attempt to make him reconsider staying in Knoxville, Summitt says Kiffin convinced her to leave the program she has led for 37 years and follow him to the sun and fun of Los Angeles and USC.
"Sorry, Tennessee," Summitt said.
With eight national championships during her tenure, Summitt said Kiffin made the point that there's not much more she can accomplish in Knoxville and that she could use a new challenge.
"I want to take women's basketball to another level," said Summitt. "And Lane made me realize I can only do that in a major media market like Los Angeles."
With Summitt's rival, Geno Auriemma, entrenched at UConn, Summitt says she can now stake a claim to the recruits in the entire western half of the country, as well as continue to exert her influence in the Southeast.
"It's really a no-brainer," said Summitt. "Lane finally made me open my eyes and see reality. There's no reason for anyone to coach at Tennessee no offense to all the great people here at Tennessee."
Kiffin is glad Summitt heard him out.
"Hey, she's not getting any younger," said Kiffin of Summitt, age 57. "She'd feel a lot better out in L.A. No winters. And she's fresh off her divorce, too. She can play the field out there. Date an actor or something."
The news of Summitt's departure at Tennessee has eclipsed the outrage over Kiffin. But University of Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton urges calm.
"Everybody needs to relax," said Hamilton. "This is our women's basketball coach. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it: the only reason we follow women's basketball here is because we're good at it. It's not like we actually like it. I mean, who could? It's awful. With Pat gone, we can focus on the good sports again. Lane Kiffin did us a favor."