Bigger dance? Conferences weighing NCAA Tournament fields of 72, 76

Expansion plans for the NCAA Tournament were presented to Division I conference commissioners, who are also reviewing an option for the men’s and women’s annual March tournaments to remain 68-team events.No expansion of the men’s and women’s tournament would be approved for March 2025, but could be enacted for the March 2026 tournament, according to a report from the Associated Press.NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said after the three-day summit last summer the committee was “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.”A year later, Gavitt was part of the presentation from the NCAA to commissioners following the 2023 recommendation of the NCAA board of directors to permit participation in championship events to up to 25 percent of eligible Division I programs.”I would rather it stay the way it is,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said in March. “But I also have been in a lot of those committees where I think it’s important to shut up and listen to other people. So I’d love to sit in the room and listen to the why. That’s part of collaborating with everybody which head coaches have kind of been left out of those committees. I’d rather see the room change. … There’s no current head coaches sitting in those rooms. It doesn’t mean we’ve got to stir the drink or make the decision, just listen to it from our vantage point.”The last time the men’s tournament expanded was before the 2011 championship, increasing from 65 to 68 teams. The men’s tournament field went from 64 to 65 teams in 2001. Different models include expansion to 72 or 76 teams.North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham is the chair of the committee for 2024-25 after serving as vice chair to Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Charles McClelland.Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said during the 2024 NCAA Tournament he would leave his opinion on the sideline and let Cunningham and others steer the direction of the tournament.Other coaches were split on the idea of expanding the tournament in March, when discussions include a model for a 90-team field.

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