College basketball fans received promising news a month ago when Mark Emmert got behind the idea of a bubble for the NCAA Tournament. However, no decisions have been made on what the regular season will look like at this time. The latest proposal came from the ACC basketball coaches on Wednesday. They voted unanimously to propose that all 346 eligible Division 1 programs make the Big Dance this season.
BREAKING: The ACC coaches will propose an all-inclusive NCAA tournament, sources told @stadium. The coaches just finished the call and voted unanimously on this.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) September 9, 2020
Fans and experts alike voiced their opinions on the matter. Many scoffed at the idea of including every team. The tournament would lose its luster. The regular season would be meaningless. Regardless of anybody’s opinion, the logistics are the biggest thing that people were concerned with.
How a 346-Team NCAA Tournament Could Work
Before we get started, it should be noted that the NCAA already shot down this proposal. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA senior vice president of basketball, assured fans that this was not being taken seriously.
“Every college basketball team’s goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament because everyone loves March Madness,” stated Gavitt. “While all who care about the game are entitled to their opinion, at this time we are not working on any contingency plan that involves expanding the tournament field.”
The NCAA Tournament Bracket
First things first, how in the world do you create a 346-team bracket? The answer is simple: do not reinvent the wheel. A nice, symmetrical template already exists for seeding a set of 16 teams. Keep that format and create 16 different 16-team brackets. That gives us 256 teams, so what about the other 90? The tournament already has an answer for that as well: play-in games!
Instead of four play-ins, we get 89 of them. All that has to be done is expand the snake seeding to create a 17 seed versus a 16 seed, an 18 seed versus a 15 seed, and so on. Seeing a potential 22 seed in a bracket might look ugly, but it gets the job done in terms of having every team included and having a bracket that works. Overall, only one week is added to the tournament. Play-in games can still occur a few days before the first round. Meanwhile, the new and improved Final Four weekend just adds a fourth week into the schedule.
Where should the games be played? The answer to this question circles back to the bubble ideas already in discussion. Numerous locations are already submitting proposals to make their site a potential bubble for games. In this scenario, 17 bubbles are needed. Cutting down the amount of travel for teams is the key, especially with respect to COVID-19. Therefore, the 16 regions are all completed at one site, including play-in games. To simplify this process, the regional will be completed at the home court of the one-seed, providing that team a …read more