In relation to one of many largest hot-button matters in faculty basketball, Eric Musselman and Greg Sankey aren’t on the identical web page.
The SEC commissioner is a part of a rising section of directors and a handful of coaches who wish to increase the NCAA Event. They appear to suppose that 68 groups making the postseason is not sufficient and wish to see that quantity improve to 96 and even 128.
“I believe there’s methods for us to consider creating entry factors that deliver extra folks into the sport, which I all the time suppose may be wholesome if performed the precise approach,” Sankey mentioned when requested in regards to the matter in an SEC Community interview Wednesday afternoon.
He is not alone in that line of considering. ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips has gone on the report in help of enlargement, as have nationwide title-winning head coaches Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and Scott Drew at Baylor.
Based mostly on responses by coaches on the annual SEC Media Day in Birmingham this week, about half of the coaches within the league are in favor of it, as properly.
Musselman will not be in that group. The one coach within the convention to succeed in an Elite Eight over the previous two years, doing so in back-to-back seasons, he falls extra in keeping with most people and different half of the coaches.
“I just like the event subject like it’s,” Musselman mentioned. “Rising up with my dad as a school coach, there was helped the groups which are there now. I believe it is an ideal quantity for my part. It is onerous to make the NCAA event. There’s worth within the common season.”
“So I actually, actually prefer it so much. I believe that you simply all the time wish to change, you wish to evolve with the instances, however sure issues — I imply, it is actually working properly proper now for everyone concerned. … I do not know why you’ll wish to change it.”
Others Taking Musselman’s Facet
Say what you need about Jon Rothstein — his tacky sayings and repetitive tweets can get annoying — however the CBS faculty basketball insider is actually passionate in regards to the sport he covers.
As discuss of increasing the NCAA Event past the present subject of 68 has ramped up, Rothstein has added one other each day tweet to his arsenal.
Different nationwide faculty basketball voices have additionally began to talk out towards it, as properly.
4 of the six new head coaches within the SEC are additionally in favor of standing pat: Florida’s Todd Golden, LSU’s Matt McMahon, Mississippi State’s Chris Jans and South Carolina’s Lamont Paris.
Whether or not it means something or not, you possibly can throw Better of Arkansas Sports activities in that class, too.
argument for enlargement
A few issues occurred earlier this 12 months that basically added a way of urgency round NCAA Event enlargement talks.
First, regardless of profitable eight of its ultimate 10 video games and making a run to the SEC Event Championship, Texas A&M was one of many first 4 groups ignored of the March Insanity.
Following the Aggies’ first recreation within the NIT, through which they finally completed runner-up, head coach Buzz Williams made an eight-minute assertion about his crew’s snub from the event. He revealed the findings of two days price of analysis and described the method as “flawed” and “damaged” — an announcement he stands by even right this moment.
“I used to be convicted by what I mentioned,” Williams mentioned Wednesday. “It was simply primarily based on what I had studied. The research over that 48-hour interval was what I believed I needed to do to clarify to the folks concerned, particularly our children.”
“Do I believe it is good for my profession to try this? No. Do I believe it helps me get one other job? No. Is it offensive to others? Do I sound like a crybaby and all the stuff that folks wrote me, texted me, DM’d me? I understood all of that. And with out being condescending, in case you have a look at my profession at that second, I would been a head coach for 15 years, I had by no means performed that earlier than.”
“However I felt as if it was proper relative to the kids and the households they symbolize, and so I do not remorse it, nor will I ever remorse it.”
A couple of months later, Ole Miss snuck into the NCAA Event in baseball and never solely made it to Omaha, however gained its first Faculty World Sequence at school historical past. Although it was a special sport, it is simple to see how Greg Sankey may join the 2.
“(My opinion) was knowledgeable by the truth that I believe A&M was enjoying in addition to anybody in males’s basketball final March and did not have entry,” Sankey mentioned on the SEC Community. “Then you definitely have a look at baseball, the place Ole Miss was acknowledged because the final crew in and is of such aggressive high quality that it wins the nationwide championship.
“It opens your thoughts to say that we’re leaving a few of these groups which have been within the prime 50 out from a NET standpoint that ought to be checked out otherwise.”
Missouri’s Dennis Gates and Ole Miss’ Kermit Davis mentioned they’d like the sphere to increase to 96 and 128 groups, respectively, as a result of they really feel prefer it’d give extra gamers a possibility to expertise March Insanity.
They did not go into specifics at SEC Media Day, however Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Georgia’s Mike White and Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse have been additionally in favor of enlargement. Then there was Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, who mentioned he was nice with holding it at 68, however would additionally wish to see the share of groups within the event extra carefully mirror different NCAA sports activities.
As soon as once more, Pearl – like Sankey – pointed to the aforementioned Texas A&M and Ole Miss examples as causes to increase.
“(Texas A&M) was a crew that you simply did not wish to play on the finish of the 12 months as a result of on the finish of the 12 months they have been enjoying nearly as good as anyone,” Pearl mentioned. “It is similar to Ole Miss in baseball final 12 months. They have been the final crew in, they usually win the Nationwide Championship. These are two fairly good arguments (for) perhaps it is time we increase it.”
The Flaw(s) in that Argument
The thought by Greg Sankey that Texas A&M “did not have entry” is ludicrous. The Aggies merely may have crushed Tennessee within the SEC Event title recreation to clinch the automated bid or averted an eight-game shedding streak in the course of convention play.
The “did not have entry” argument actually solely applies to groups like Coastal Carolina in faculty soccer, the place groups outdoors the Energy 5 had zero probability to compete for a nationwide championship till an ideal storm helped Cincinnati crack the sphere final 12 months.
(Talking of playoff fields that must be expanded…)
Additionally, let’s deal with this line of considering that a number of SEC coaches talked about Wednesday – that as a result of there are extra groups in Division I faculty basketball, extra groups ought to make the event.
Certain, there have been solely 327 groups in DI twenty years in the past. That grew to 347 groups by 2013 and now sits at 363 groups.
Nonetheless, the extra spots within the NCAA Event would not actually be for these new groups. Small colleges like St. Thomas, Bellarmine and Tarleton State could have the identical entry as they all the time have, which implies their solely probability of creating the dance is profitable their convention event.
The additional spots would as a substitute go to mediocre groups from the SEC, ACC, Large 12, Large Ten, Pac-12 and Large East. Maybe a deserving crew from a league just like the A-10 would get an at-large when it beforehand would not, however for essentially the most half, you’d in all probability have high-major packages with convention data hovering round .500 making it.
Plus, simply have a look at the coaches who spoke out towards enlargement. Eric Musselman got here to Arkansas from Nevada, Todd Golden got here to Florida from San Francisco, Lamont Paris got here to South Carolina from UT-Chattanooga, Matt McMahon got here to LSU from Murray State and Chris Jans got here to Mississippi State from New Mexico State.
Every of them is aware of the stress of profitable a mid- or low-major convention event with a purpose to make the NCAA Event. If the rising variety of D1 groups really merited enlargement, would not they be in favor of it?
“You possibly can have an important 12 months and have one slip-up, one dangerous 40-minute recreation and be ignored,” Jans mentioned. “I can perceive the argument for.
“However on the similar time, it is the perfect three weeks of the 12 months each 12 months and the storylines, and there is loads of David and Goliath tales and all these kind of issues each single 12 months. When you needed to put a gun to my head, I might say I might in all probability hold the format, however I perceive why there’s some traction to increase it as properly.”
Whatever the measurement of the event, there’ll all the time be a Texas A&M – a crew that’s in all probability deserving, however there is a finite quantity of spots. Arkansas has been on the flawed facet of the cutoff, too.
Again in 2013-14, Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls helped the Razorbacks beat Kentucky twice. They gained eight of their ultimate 10 regular-season video games and entered Choice Sunday with a 21-11 report, however they have been ignored because of a fast exit from the SEC Event.
A Potential Compromise for the NCAA Event
The cliche of “if it ain’t broke, do not repair it” actually applies to the NCAA Event, however one of many prime minds within the sport has proposed an 80-team format that would not be dangerous.
Ken Pomeroy, the mastermind of the KenPom scores, shared his thought by way of Twitter earlier this week. In his system, 48 groups – all 32 computerized bids and the highest 16 at-large bids – would primarily obtain a bye into the sphere of 64.
For the opposite 16 spots, there could be 16 play-in video games between the remaining 32 groups, which consists of remaining at-large bids and regular-season convention champions who didn’t win their convention event, so long as they’re in a convention that gained an NCAA Event recreation within the earlier 5 years.
This is perhaps the proper compromise. Common-season success could be rewarded within the type of not having to play that further recreation. Convention tournaments would nonetheless matter. Nice groups from high quality mid-major conferences would not have the stress of avoiding an upset in convention tournaments. The sector could be massive sufficient that deserving groups like Texas A&M may make it, however not so massive that mediocre groups get in.
That could be a system faculty basketball followers may in all probability get behind.
SEC Coaches Break up on NCAA Event Growth
*Based mostly on how they responded to polling by The Athletic at SEC Media Day on Wednesday
In Favor of Growth
- Kermit DavisOle Miss
- Rick Barnes-Tennessee
- Dennis Gates-Missouri
- Jerry Stackhouse-Vanderbilt
- Mike White-Georgia
- Bruce Pearl—Auburn
- Eric Musselman—Arkansas
- Lamont Paris-South Carolina
- Chris Jans – Mississippi State
- Todd Golden-Florida
- Matt McMahon—LSU
- John Calipari—Kentucky
- Nate Oats-Alabama
- Buzz Williams-Texas A&M
Extra protection of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…