NCAA tournament expands to 68 teams

by Derek Wetmore

The old 64-team format is a thing of the past, but the NCAA has not yet approved anything on the proposed 96-team tournament. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that in addition to the old bracket-style tournament, the NCAA will be adding a four-game first round that includes the four lowest seeds in the field as well as two at-large qualifiers. The NCAA is considering hosting the games in Dayton, Ohio.

The motion was approved in April, but plans on how the first round will be played were just announced Monday. This marks the first expansion of the tournament since 2001, when it went from 64 to 65 teams, with the bottom two teams competing in a play-in game. There are certainly oppononets out there, and some of those opponents point to a need to protect the purity of the tournament. Others say that expansion is not aimed at defending the integrity of the sport in the college ranks, but at increasing revenues at struggling athletic departments across the country.

This move could be the precursor to an eventual expansion to a 96-team format, but it is not a foregone conclusion. All we know at this point is that three more teams have been added to the 2011 NCAA post-season tournament that is March Madness.