Go back and reminisce upon the craziest March Madness you can remember. Maybe it was Jimmy V’s NC State team winning the national title. Maybe it was Kris Jenkins burying a three at the buzzer to win the championship just seconds after Marcus Paige hit a prayer to tie the game. It could be UMBC making history just three years ago by beating first seeded Virginia in the first ever 16-1 upset.
Now recall the excitement, joy, anger, or any other emotion going through your body at that time. Whether good or bad, we all love the feeling we get from watching madness ensue in March.
So take that energy, and multiply it by five. Crazy, right? So why not take the 68 team format and expand it even further. More teams, more craziness, more excitement, more enjoyment. But an idea like this would never even cross the minds of college basketball executives. But in 2020, in a year where it seems as though anything can happen, college basketball might get the most unexpected and wild twist it has ever seen.
The ACC has recently proposed a 2020 NCAA tournament that includes 347 teams; all of Division One. In light of the pandemic occurring, the ACC head coaches all voted yes on this hypothetical super tournament in order to give all teams a fair shot to win it all. This idea, if it comes into fruition, can lead to great things for the NCAA as a whole.
Source: The ACC will propose that ever single team in Division 1 will make the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 9, 2020
First of all, this expanded tournament would be outstanding for the NCAA financially. More games mean more ticket sales (hopefully fans are allowed), higher TV ratings, and more advertisement money. In addition, this one time tournament could lead to merchandising opportunities, as the NCAA can create shirts and gear based on the name designated to the larger field.
Fans would be all for this idea. More games, more madness, more fun. More fans will tune in because their teams are finally playing meaningful games in March, and more games are nothing but a positive for college hoops fanatics.
From a players standpoint, there are positives and negatives to this situation. Positively, those who may not have made the tournament if it was 68 teams have an opportunity to compete for a championship and make noise. In addition, each team will be motivated to not be upset in any round, and upsets will be prominent in this new format.
Adversely, teams who earned their spot in the 68 team tournament could be getting the wrong end of the stick in this proposal. More teams in the tournament lead to a lower chance of winning it all for each team, and a higher chance of being upset.
All in all, this idea can benefit the NCAA much greater than it can hurt it. In a year with many question marks, why not throw a curveball and make the tournament unlike anything college basketball has seen before.
The upside is high, the downside is not substantial to not do it. However, it is too big of a decision to go through the NCAA and get approval unanimously. It is unlikely this tournament field comes into effect for 2020.
With that being said, if we do see a 347 team field for the 2021 NCAA tournament, college basketball will be the most watched sport in March and April, will regain old fans that it had lost, and gain more revenue than ever before in an NCAA tournament. If the NCAA is smart, it will pass a mega-tournament format and create the most madness march has ever seen.