Keep NCAA Tournament at 68 teams


The NCAA begins its convention today in San Antonio. One proposal for discussion is expanding the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments from their current 68-team fields to around 90, which is 25 percent of the sport’s members.

If Siena men’s basketball coach Carmen Maciariello had his way, he would leave well enough alone.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I‘d rather keep it where it is,” Maciariello said recently.

The NCAA transformation committee made the suggestion last week in a 40-page report that will be considered by the Division I Board of Directors in San Antonio this week. There will be no final approval this week. Tournament expansion would undergo initial review by committees by June and there would be final recommendations by January 2024.

If adopted, tournament expansion would not take place until 2025.

Maciariello acknowledged the men’s tournament has consistently expanded over the years as membership has grown. There were eight teams when it was founded in 1939. It gradually grew from 16 to 32 to 48 to 64 (in 1985) and the most recent expansion to 68 teams in 2011.

“It’s always continued to grow,” Maciariello said. “In everything, you have to adjust and adapt.”

But Maciariello wondered if expansion the tournament will benefit high-majors much more than mid-majors.

“Does it mean there are regular-season (champion) mid-major teams making it, or does it means it’s just basically BCS-level teams and now it’s always going to be a Big Ten-ACC-SEC challenge where you’re always going to have power-conference teams playing and then maybe you get a Cinderella,” Maciariello said.

Last season, the biggest Cinderella was Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Saint Peter’s. This season, Siena is alone in first place in the MAAC heading into this weekend’s games at Niagara and Canisius. The Saints are trying to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

“I think the national audience, especially the fans, right, they love the story of Cinderella more than they love BCS-level teams that have .500 records or right around that, battling to say they made it to the round of 72,” Maciariello said.

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