Sunday, May 2, 2010
IU's Crean Preferred 96-Team NCAA Tourney Field
We don’t know exactly what the newly expanded 68-team NCAA tourney will look like, but we do know one thing:
Indiana coach Tom Crean wanted a 96-team field.
“I would love to see it get into the 90s,” he said. “I’m excited about that. I didn’t think there was a possibility it wouldn’t once that became public, but it is what it is.”
Back in March NCAA officials openly pushed expanding the 65-team field to 96, which would have created first-round byes for the top 32 teams. But in the end, officials settled for adding just three more teams. That would create an opening-round game in each of the four regionals. The idea was to take away the negative image of the play-in game that resulted by adding a 65th team to the field in 2001.
The logistics of when, where and how these four opening-round games will be played will be determined in the two next months.
So what does Crean think of all this?
“Any time you enhance something, make it better, that’s great. It’s hard to look at the NCAA Tournament and find any flaws in it. It’s a great event. The pageantry of college basketball is unmatched. I don’t think getting into the 90s would have hurt it.
“I love seeing the tournament. It’s an unreal feeling when you’re in it and a miserable feeling when you’re not. Very few things in life bring that emotion constantly. The tournament brings it out.
“I hope they don’t turn these new games into play-in games. I don’t think that’s right. If you’re looking at adding teams it should be the teams that should have gone next. Put the three or four bubble teams in and let them go play.
In an ideal Cream ‘n Crimson world, IU will be one of those bubble teams that get in next year. And if that seems doubtful after consecutive 20-plus-loss seasons, remember, it’s spring, when all things are possible. Don’t believe it? Then consider that IU relief pitcher Chris Squires, a senior who hadn’t had an at bat since his senior year in high school (Fort Wayne Canterbury), singled in the winning run to beat Purdue in extra innings Saturday.
Sometimes good things really do happen to those who wait.