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Friday, April 23, 2010
Boeheim still wants more expansion

By Eamonn Brennan

Thursday's expansion news -- that the NCAA tournament would be expanding to 68, and not 96, teams -- was greeted ecstatically by pretty much everyone. Jim Boeheim? He's just OK with it.

Boeheim has been a longtime proponent of expansion. For some reason, Boeheim seems to be believe that there are many more good teams than the 65 already allowed into the event, and he was one of the many coaches leading the charge to get the tournament expanded to 96. From a distance, Boeheim's belief seems genuine, but that doesn't make it any less wrong.

Here's what Boeheim had to say yesterday:
"As a coach I'd like to see more people get in but 68 is a good step and the easiest way, to have the least amount of turmoil," Boeheim said. "It's better than nothing. There's really no way to do a little bit bigger expansion. You can't expand by eight, 10. There's no way to figure that out.

"This is the easiest way and hopefully down the road there will be a bigger expansion."

No, Jim! No! Not hopefully! Hopefully the tournament doesn't expand! Please stop saying things like this, OK? You're going to screw this up for everybody.

Unlike some coaches, it's hard to say Boeheim's belief stems from his desire to make his own job easier. After all, Syracuse makes the tournament almost every year, and it's not as though Boeheim would be at any risk of losing his job if he strung a few NIT seasons together. He's safe.

Many of his colleagues, however, seem to believe that a 96-team tournament would make their lives considerably less stressful. It's time to dispel this. Sure, making the tournament would be easier, and the pressure over getting into the tournament would be lessened. But fans aren't dumb. If you're the 96th team in, you still had an NIT quality season, no matter what the name of the tournament is. Your team wasn't good. It's not hard to decipher. And if you do happen to miss the tournament, the bar is so low that outrage becomes intensified. If you can't make a 65-team tournament, oh well. If you can't make a 96-team tournament? Talk about pressure.

So coaches, please, please, please stop thinking that a 96-team tournament is better, either for the NCAA in general or for members of your profession specifically. No one else wants this. Based even on pure self-interest, you guys shouldn't want it either.