Thursday, March 25, 2010

What a Hypothetical 96-Team Field for the NCAA Tournament Would Look Like

The NCAA seems pretty insistent on expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96-Teams. Just like with last year's tournament, I wanted to see what a 96-team field this year would look like. I assume that the teams who made the actual tournament (65), plus all of the at-large teams for the NIT (24), plus any automatic bids for the NIT who had a higher seed than the lowest at-large team (1-Kent St.) would all make it. That leaves six slots. I will primarily use RPI as a measure of the best teams, though I will actually examine the records of the teams and generally teams from big conferences get in with lower RPI's. A dubious assumption I will also make is to also assume that any team with a losing record will not get in. Using those criteria I would say that the additional six teams would be Arizona, VCU, Marshall, Miami, SLU and Alabama. Based on my selections every BCS conference team with a strictly winning record, except an ineligible USC, would have made the tournament.

Here is a full bracket for a 96-team tournament from the Washington Post. The only differences between mine and his, other than 1-bid conferences, are that he includes Georgia, South Carolina, Charlotte and La Tech, and I include Ohio, Houston, Alabama and Nevada. I had excluded Georgia and South Carolina because they had losing records. Ohio and Houston won automatic bids; Charlotte continued its tail-spin and Nevada beat LaTech after the other story was written. So the differences can be explained by either one assumption (including losing teams) or when the selections were made.

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