How will the new 68-team tourney look?
With July upon us, we NCAA Tournament fans await word from the Men’s Selection Committee regarding the bracketing procedures for 2011. Next spring, we’ll have a Field of 68. Andy Katz of ESPN recently had a look at some of the options being considered. Link to ESPN story.
Since the decision was made to expand to 68 (and not 96, thankfully), there have been two popular schools of thought. 1) Rank the teams on the S-Curve from 1-68, then take the bottom eight teams and pair them as “play-in” games in each region. In other words, have a 16 vs. 17 seed in each region with the winner playing the No. 1 seed. 2) Pair up the final eight at-large teams with the winner falling on the 12-seed line (or something similar). This scenario is obviously more complicated: conference conflicts, regular-season rematches, etc.
Given the importance of balancing each region (regardless of our debates on Selection Sunday), the easiest and most sensible option is No. 1. That’s why it will come as no surprise when we learn there will be four 16 vs. 17 matchups in the Opening Round. Play them all at Dayton on Tuesday – an afternoon and evening session with two games each. Sure, the matchups won’t be a juicy as two bubble teams, but it’s the fairest and most sensible scenario. It may also increase the potential for a 16-over-1 upset. Why? Because teams matching up with No. 1s will be more the equivalent of current 15 seeds.
Different opinion? Rebounds are always welcome. An updated look at the 2011 Field of 68 coming soon.