NCAA announces March Madness expansion…

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05: A general view of the opening tipoff between Matt Howard #54 of the Butler Bulldogs and Brian Zoubek #55 of the Duke Blue Devils during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images);

…and it’s not as bad as we thought it was going to be.

The final four at-large teams and final four automatic qualifiers in the newly minted 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament field will meet for the right to enter the traditional 64-team draw, tournament selection committee chairman Dan Guerrero announced Monday.

The “First Four” will be played either the Tuesday or Wednesday after Selection Sunday. The winners of the four games will advance to what will now be called the “second round” on either Thursday or Friday.

The games will be televised on TruTv (formerly CourtTV), which is available in 93 million homes, said NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen, who manages the NCAA tournament. CBS, Turner, TBS and TruTV are in their first year of a $10.8 billion, 14-year television agreement.

There was a lot of talk about a possible expansion to 96 teams, which would just be an obvious money grab by the NCAA, but the entity showed some restraint and are only going to expand the tournament by three teams.

I don’t know what the hell TruTV is or if I even get it on DirecTV, but this is the way for a channel to put itself on the map.

But wait a second — the last few at-large teams (#10-#12) aren’t seeded as low as the last few automatic bids (#16), so how are the winners of the “First Four” going to be inserted in the rest of the tournament field?

Guerrero and Shaheen said the last four at-large teams would be put on the seed line the committee decided they earned. So, this could mean that two could be considered No. 12 seeds playing for the right to play a No. 5 and two could be No. 11s vying to play a No. 6 in the second round.

In its news release, the NCAA listed the 10th seed as a possible destination for the last at-large teams, something that has occurred in past years. It is unlikely that the committee will have one team seeded 10th, 11th or 12th to avoid having teams seeded differently playing in a First Four game.

Confused yet? Me too, but at least the NCAA has a plan. I just don’t know quite how it’s going to work. If these are #11 vs. #16 games, then potentially there would be a #16 vs. #6 matchup if the #16-seed won its “First Four” game. That is going to take some getting used to.

Hey, at least they didn’t expand it any further.

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Poll Results: Why do you hate Duke?

Over the past week, we’ve conducted a poll that asks our readers why they hate the Duke Blue Devils. Here are the results (250 respondents):

The results are interesting. While 37% of respondents freely admit that they don’t hate Duke, that means that 63% do, for one reason or another. The top reasons were “they get all the calls” with 20%, “private school, elitist student body” with 14%, and “Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, etc.” with 8%. Surprisingly, “Coach K” (3%) and “they win too much” (4%) were not popular responses.

Jon Stewart puts Duke’s win into perspective [video]

I like his reasoning…

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College basketball rules that (don’t) need to change

Sparty & Friends listed five rules in college basketball that need to change. I don’t have a problem with #2 (6-fouls to disqualification) or #3 (no passing the ball in the half court on out of bounds plays), so let’s focus on the other three:

1. Change to 48 minute games, divided up in quarters, with a 24 second shot clock – At first I wasn’t sure about this one, as most will usually complain that most sporting events are already too long in the first place. However, I reconsidered based on what my second rule change should be. An additional 8 minutes will not significantly impact the length of the game, especially if they were to eliminate stoppage timeouts every 4 minutes of playing time. They will have the two extra tv timeouts at the end of the quarters, which would help alleviate the advertising concern. A need for a 24 second clock would be needed to force teams to not milk the clock anymore than they already do. The cons of this would put teams with lack of depth, especially smaller schools in the tournament, at a disadvantage. To that I say tough noogies.

I object more to the 24-second shot clock than the four quarters idea, but I’d rather not see any of this happen. First, going to a 24-shot clock would only serve to make teams depend even more on the good ol’ on-ball screen that is already so prevalent in college hoops. In the NBA, the short shot clock leads to a lot of bad attempts — can you imagine what would happen in college with players that aren’t nearly as good? No, the 35-second shot clock is just fine. It allows offenses and plays to develop and generally results in good attempts. Plus, it rewards the best defenses that are able to defend for that duration.

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Will Brad Stevens stay put?

ESPN rumors reports on the possibility of Brad Stevens taking a job elsewhere.

Given that the school can’t afford to pay Stevens a top salary, it probably can’t make his buyout price high enough to faze a BCS-level school either.

One thing that’s working in the school’s favor is time. The run to the championship game means many schools that had Stevens in mind have already filled their positions. With Oliver Purnell going to DePaul and BC looking ready to hire Cornell’s Steve Donahue, Oregon and now Clemson are the only schools that can offer a world-beating financial package.

The Register-Guard reports that Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny was in Indianapolis this weekend and reportedly has his eye on Stevens:

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