Disingenuous move on the part of the NCAA. Hypocritical. Etc, etc. But we'll all still tune in and watch. Sigh.
A couple of bullet points on how *I* think it should go:
- 68 team field, with a mutual option between TV-rights holder and the NCAA to go to a 72 team field within a certain window of time.
- The Selection Committee would basically seed 17 teams in each of the four brackets. Automatic qualifying teams (even from the tiny conferences) and teams seeded 8 or higher, would be exempt from a play-in game. So somewhere in the 9-12 seed range, there would be a play-in game scheduled between two at-large qualifiers.
- This method would give fans 4 games on the Tuesday prior, all of which would more than likely pit "Last 8 In" teams against each other. The resulting matchups would be more of a national/regional TV draw, and allow all the guaranteed conference tourney winners a spot in the "traditional" field of 64.
- Not speaking for the Sel. Com. but for example, this year we might have seen: Ariz St vs. Ga Tech (to meet OkSt); Va Tech vs. Minnesota (to meet Xavier); Miss St vs. Washington (to meet Marquette); and Illinois vs. Louisville (to meet Cal). [[Obviously Ark PB/Winthrop would have both had to have "real" seeds, but figuring that much of a reshuffle hurt my head --TB]
- The 72 team option would just create a second set of these games using the same guidelines, Committee seeds 18 teams per bracket, etc etc.
I think this gives the NCAA some extra news cycles, and doesn't crazily shift the balance of power in the tournament. The matchups would have big school names, and give those fan bases some extra spotlight on their teams. It allows the "little guys" to know they are at least going to survive until the "opening montage" credits. And it makes the road a little realistically tougher for those teams that "finished .500 in a power conference" or other somesuch.
Any thoughts from RMN?