Should the NCAA Tournament expand? Talks continue, but expansion ‘not imminent’


The NCAA announced the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee discussed a possible expansion of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this week, though expanding the 68-team field is “not imminent.”

“The committee must be good stewards for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship,” Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball at the NCAA, said in a release. “They are committed to doing their due diligence looking at a few different models to make an informed decision that’s in the best interests of the championship, and that may very well include deciding against expansion. Whether the tournament expands or not remains to be seen.”

This discussion is the result of recommendations made by the Division I Transformation Committee, which was formed in 2021, to “identify opportunities to modernize college sports and recommend forward-thinking changes for consideration by the NCAA.” One of the committee’s recommendations was to qualify 25% of a sport’s membership to a championship for those sports that have at least 200 participating schools. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament currently welcomes 68 of college basketball’s 351 programs, good for 19.4% of the schools.

All of this comes one year after SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, one of the most impactful people in the college sports landscape, saying that he wants to “take a fresh look” at the NCAA Tournament.


“Just take a fresh look at all of it,” Sankey told Sports Illustrated. “As we think collectively, everyone goes to the corner and says, ‘I have to hang on to what’s mine.’ But how do we contribute and build it better together?”

My Take: There’s the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” but there’s little to no appetite from the majority of people around college basketball for the greatest postseason tournament in sports to be amended. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

March Madness is thriving, providing parity and Cinderella stories that are frankly in a category of their own. Sure, Sankey would love to see more teams from his conference make the Big Dance and not be sweating on Selection Sunday. It’s a financially beneficial move for him and other high-major conference commissioners. But for an NCAA release to state that nothing is imminent and that the committee “may very well decide against expansion” is telling about where things currently stand.

The NCAA Tournament is perfect at 68 teams. Expanding it just further dilutes the meaning of college basketball’s regular season and could do damage to an event that never misses. 

The changes to March Madness should be more than just “not imminent.” They shouldn’t happen. Period.

 John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter at @John_Fanta.

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