When it comes to one of the biggest hot topics in college basketball, Eric Musselman and Greg Sankey are not on the same page.
The SEC commissioner is part of a growing segment of administrators and a few coaches who want to expand the NCAA Championship. They seem to think that 68 teams making post-season is not enough and would like to increase that number to 96 or even 128.
“I think there are ways for us to think about creating access points that bring more people into the game, which I always think can be healthy if done the right way,” Sankey said when asked about the matter in an interview with SEC Network Wednesday afternoon.
He is not alone in this line of thinking. ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips has been registered To support expansion, as did National title-winning coaches Jim Boeheim in Syracuse and Scott Drew in Baylor.
Judging by the coaches’ responses at the annual SEC Media Day in Birmingham this week, about half of the coaches in the league are also in favor of it.
Moselman is not in that group. The only coach in the conference to have reached the Elite Eight in the past two years, and to do so in back-to-back seasons, he is more in tune with the general public and the other half of coaches.
“I love the championship stadium as it is,” Muselman said. “Growing up with my dad as a college coach, there were half the teams out there now. I think it’s a perfect number in my opinion. It’s hard to make an NCAA championship. There is value in the regular season.”
“So I really, really like it a lot. I think you always want to change, you want to evolve with the times, but some things — I mean, it’s working really well now for everyone involved. … I don’t know why you want to change it.”
Others took the side of Musulman
Say what you will about Jon Rothstein—his vulgar sayings and frequent tweets can get annoying—but the college basketball insider at CBS is definitely excited about the sport he’s covering.
As talk escalated about expanding the NCAA Championship beyond the current field of 68, Rothstein added another daily tweet to his arsenal.
Basketball voices at other national colleges have also begun to speak out against it as well.
Four of the six new SEC coaches also endorse standing: Todd Golden of Florida, Matt McMahon of Mississippi State University, Chris Gans of Mississippi State and Lamont Paris of South Carolina.
Whether it means anything or not, you can throw The best of Arkansas Sports Also in this category.
Two things happened earlier this year that really added a sense of urgency to the NCAA Championship expansion talks.
First, despite winning eight of their last 10 matches and advancing to the SEC Tournament Championship, Texas A&M was one of the first four teams to be disqualified from March Madness.
After the Aggies’ first game at NIT, in which they eventually finished runner-up, coach Buzz Williams He made an eight-minute statement About his team’s disdain for the championship. He revealed the results of the two-day search and described the process as “flawed” and “disrupted” – a statement he still supports today.
“I was condemned for what I said,” Williams said on Wednesday. “It was just based on what I had studied. Studying over that 48-hour period was what I thought I should do to explain to the people involved, specifically our children.”
“Do I think it’s OK to do this in my career? No. Do I think it helps me get another job? No. Is it offensive to others? Do I look like a crying baby and all the things people have written to me, texted me, or Send me a DM? I understood it all and without compromise, if you look at my career at that moment, I’ve been a head coach for 15 years, I’ve never done that before.”
“But I felt as if that was true of the children and the families they represented, and so I don’t regret it, and I never will.”
A few months later, the Ole Miss crept into the NCAA baseball championship and not only made it to Omaha, but won her first world championship in the school’s history. Even though it was a different sport, it’s easy to see how Greg Sankey could connect the two.
“(My opinion) was inspired by the fact that I thought A&M was playing like anybody in men’s basketball last March and didn’t have access,” Sankey told SEC Network. Then you look at baseball, where the Ole Miss was recognized as the last team in it and has such a competitive quality that it won the National Championship.
“It opens your mind to say we’re leaving out some of these teams that were in the top 50 from NET’s point of view that should be looked at differently.”
Dennis Gates of Missouri and Kermit Davis of Ole Miss said they’d like to expand the field to 96 and 128 teams, respectively, because they feel it’s giving more players a chance to experience March Madness.
They didn’t go into detail at the SEC’s media day, but Rick Barnes of Tennessee, Mike White of Georgia and Jerry Stackhouse of Vanderbilt were also in favor of the expansion. Then there was Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, who said it was okay to hold it at 68, but would also like to see the percentage of teams in the tournament more reflective of other NCAA sports.
Again, Perle – like Sankey – cited the Texas A&M and Ole Miss examples as reasons for expansion.
“(Texas A&M) was a team that you didn’t want to play at the end of the year because at the end of the year it was playing as good as everyone else,” Pearl said. “It’s like the Ole Miss at baseball last year. They were the last team in the championship and won the National Championship. Those are two good arguments (for) maybe it’s time to expand it.”
The flaw(s) in that argument
Greg Sankey’s idea that Texas A&M “has no access” is absurd. The Aggies could simply have beat Tennessee in a SEC Championship title match to win automatic bidding or avoid eight straight games in the middle of multiplayer.
The “you didn’t have access” argument really only applies to teams like Coastal Carolina in college football, where teams outside the Power Five had no chance of competing for a national championship until a full-blown storm helped Cincinnati breach the field last year.
(Speaking of stadiums to be expanded…)
Also, let’s take that line of thinking mentioned by several SEC coaches on Wednesday – because as there are more teams in the Division I college basketball, more teams should be involved in the tournament.
Sure, there were only 327 teams in DI two decades ago. The number grew to 347 teams by 2013 and now has 363 teams.
However, the additional spots in the NCAA Championship will not really be for those new teams. Small schools like St. Thomas, Bellarmine, and Tarleton State have always had the same access, which means her only chance at dancing is to win the conference course.
Instead, the additional spots will go to mid-level teams from the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the Big East. A deserving team from a league like the A-10 will probably get a big divorce when they previously didn’t, but for the most part, you’ll likely have high majors with conference records hovering around 0.500.
Plus, just look at the coaches who have spoken out against expansion. Eric Mosselman came to Arkansas from Nevada, Todd Golden came to Florida from San Francisco, Lamont Paris came to South Carolina from Utah Chattanooga, Matt McMahon came to California State University from Murray State, and Chris Gans came to Mississippi from New Mexico.
All of them know the pressures of winning a middle or low conference tournament in order to make the NCAA Championship. If the growing number of D1 teams was really worth expanding, wouldn’t they be in his favour?
“You could have a great year and have one slip, one bad 40-minute game, and be disqualified,” Gans said. “I can understand the argument.
“But at the same time, it’s the best three weeks of the year every year and every year and stories, and there’s a lot of David and Goliath stories and all these kinds of things every year. If you had to put a gun in my head, I’d say I’d probably keep the format, but I understand why there’s Some traction to expand it, too.”
No matter the size of the tournament, there will always be a Texas A&M team – a team that probably deserves it, but there are a limited number of locations. Arkansas was on the wrong side of the cut, too.
Back in 2013-14, Bobby Portis and Michael Cowells helped the Razorbacks beat Kentucky twice. They have won eight of the last 10 games of the regular season and entered Selection Sunday with a score of 21-11, but were eliminated thanks to a quick exit from the SEC Championship.
A possible compromise for the NCAA Championship
The cliché “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly applies to the NCAA Championship, but one of the sport’s top minds suggested an 80-team format wouldn’t be bad.
Ken Pomeroy, mastermind of KenPom . reviewsHe shared his idea via Twitter earlier this week. In his system, 48 teams – all 32 automatic bids and the top 16 overall bids – would bid farewell to the 64-team field.
For the other 16 places, there will be 16 games play between the remaining 32 teams, which consists of the remaining big bids and regular season conference champions who failed to win their conference tournament, as long as they are in the conference that won an NCAA championship game in the past five years .
This may be the perfect compromise. Success in the regular season will be rewarded in the form of not having to play that extra game. Conference tournaments are still important. Great teams from mediocre major conferences will not have the pressure of avoiding turmoil in conference tournaments. The field will be large enough that deserving teams like Texas A&M can make it, but not so big that mediocre teams can enter it.
This is a college system that basketball fans can fall short of.
SEC coaches split over NCAA Championship expansion
*based on how they respond Polls by Athletic At the Securities and Exchange Commission’s media day on Wednesday
in favor of expansion
- Kermit Davis – Ole Miss
- Rick Barnes – Tennessee
- Dennis Gates – Missouri
- Jerry Stackhouse – Vanderbilt
- Mike White – Georgia
- Bruce Pearl – Auburn
- Eric Mosselman – Arkansas
- Lamont Paris – South Carolina
- Chris Gans – Mississippi
- Todd Golden – Florida
- Matt McMahon – LSU
- John Calipari – Kentucky
- Nate Outs – Alabama
- Buzz Williams – Texas A&M
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