How Many Teams?! | NCAA Committee Proposed Expansion Would Allow 90 Teams Into March Madness

NCAA Proposing to Expand March Madness to 90 plus teams
(Photo by Handout/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The NCAA is trying to stay relevant in a changing college sports landscape while spreading the love and fostering a more competitive structure within Division I NCAA Sports. One of the new ideas being considered is including more teams for different championship tournaments, which would potentially increase the NCAA March Madness tournament field to 90-plus teams.  

Is NCAA Expanding March Madness Pool To 90 Teams? 

The NCAA’s Transformation Committee Championship subgroup put forth a proposal that would expand the NCAA by including 25 percent more teams in these competitions. According to a 40-page report from the committee that will be presented to the Division I Board of Directors later this month, if the men’s and women’s 68-team March Madness tournament were to add 25 percent more teams to the tournament, it could be over 90 teams that play in the March Madness tournament.

That’s more money generated, more schools featured, and more fans and alumni invested in March Madness.

The NCAA Transformation Committee also proposed a few other things as a part of their pitch to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. 

As reported by 247Sports: “An elevated travel experience for participants” was requested by the Transformation Committee. They also requested that the NCAA refine revenue distribution to “reflect contemporary Division I values and account for athletic performance in more sports than men’s basketball. When redesigning the program consider (a) gender equity; (b) implementation timeline; and (c) commitment to broad-based sports sponsorship.

This new proposal strikes at the core of gender inequities between women and men’s sports programs at the collegiate level.

In 2021, Stanford sports performance coach Ali Kerschner’s post on social media displayed a drastic difference between what men’s teams competing at the NCAA Tournament in Indiana got to use to work out and what the women competing at the NCAA Tournament were provided in Texas. It caused quite an uproar.

Is Expanding NCAA Tourney Pool Good For College Basketball?

This is an interesting proposal that could shake the landscape of the NCAA and its iconic basketball tournament. This can add more teams to the fold, and with that you have pros and cons.

Pros

More exposure for less popular Division I schools and more spotlight on some of the nation’s most underrated players, more upsets, and plenty more revenue. 

Cons

On the other hand, this can lead to much more controversial rankings, and some very uneven matchups during tournaments. There is also the possibility you lose money when a small market school is playing deeper into the tournament over a large market school. Plus there is the fact that it will cost more money to host more games in these tournaments as well. 

While these are just the hypothetical pros and cons that could arise with an expanded tournament setting in the NCAA Tournament, the most important component to this is the fans. They are what brings money into these schools and the NCAA. 

TheComeback does a phenomenal job of documenting some of college basketball’s biggest fans and their reaction to the news that a 90-plus March Madness tournament could possibly happen. 

“I love the NCAA tournament more than any other postseason. 90 teams (TWENTY-TWO MORE) seems egregious,” tweeted Caroline Darney.

TheComeback also quotes Steve Silver’s tweet, “So weird, March Madness is the gold standard of playoff systems, it’s the one system that almost everyone agrees has the right number of teams involved, why try to fix what isn’t broken?”

With tons of other fans sharing the same sentiment, it’s pretty clear that most fans are skittish on a possible NCAA Tournament expansion. 

But don’t lose hope just yet, NCAA fans, because according to Sports Illustrated writer Ross Dellenger, this proposal is far from done. 

Dellenger writes, “individual sport oversight committees will give final approval.”

It doesn’t seem likely that the NCAA will agree to move forward with this proposed expansion, but on the bright side, if they do then we’re in for a whole lot more March Madness basketball.