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NCAA Tournament Eyes Expansion to 72 or 76: Report

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice

Since the NCAA Tournament officially changed to a 64-team field in 1985, there have not been too many changes to that format.

In 2011, the NCAA added the “First Four” round, which included two extra games, and the winners would advance to the field of 64.

However, on Thursday morning, ESPN reported that the NCAA has devised a format that could add either four or eight teams to the field, but the committee will still consider leaving the “Big Dance” as it is right now.


ESPN reports that NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt and senior vice president of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman presented this idea.

The structure of the Round of 64 would not change much. The additions would be to the “First Four” round, which now would consist of more “play-in” games for the No. 10, No. 11, and No. 12 seeds.

More games would bring in more revenue and ticket sales, but the amount each conference benefits from the tournament would not increase much.

It was also noted that the playing field would never expand past 80 teams. Meanwhile, something that would have to be addressed would be adding another site for the “First Four” round.

This plan favors the big programs, as opposed to the smaller schools that send in one or two teams to the Big Dance due to having only one automatic bid because an at-large big would benefit teams with harder schedules.

If any serious change is implemented, it could happen as early as the 2025-26 season.

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