With a 96-team NCAA Tournament seemingly a foregone conclusion sooner rather than later because the NCAA wants more money -- and not because 31 worthy teams are left out of the existing 65-team event -- a few more people have lined up to oppose the idea.
Bob Knight, the all-time victories leader in Division I-A men's basketball and current TV analyst, offered his insights with "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio.
First, there was some sarcasm (what else from the often acerbic former coach?) and a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: "If they want to expand, expand it all the way, and then you play one game and you’re right back to 64. Then you’ve giving every team that can just dribble the basketball the opportunity to participate."
His real opinion came later: "I don’t think there should be any expansion. The ideal tournament to me is 32 teams. With 32 teams in the tournament, you’ve set up a tournament where virtually every team is going to be pretty good and have a chance to go somewhere."
The existing 11-year deal between CBS and the NCAA for the tournament runs for another three years, but a clause allows the NCAA to opt out after this season with no penalty -- if it decides to do so by July 31. Because the event provides a huge portion of the NCAA's annual revenue (more than 90 percent), some NCAA officials see it as an area for even more growth.
Opponents correctly argue that a 96-team would diminish much of the charm of the tournament and further water down college basketball's regular season. Those arguments do nothing to sway supporters, for whom the current economy provides another motivating factor. Some NCAA officials see this year's opt-out window as a perfect time to rebid the tournament, making the rights for the event available at a time when other sports properties are not on the market.