Source: Tournament expansion ‘will happen’

SPORTSbyBROOKS has a source that has confirmed that expansion to 96-teams is pretty much a done deal.

In the past week I’ve learned from a CBS source that the NCAA has privately informed its current March Madness television partner that 96 teams “will happen.” The change will likely take effect beginning next season. 2012 at the latest.

Earlier this month, I wrote the following on the subject of expansion:

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CBS analyst Seth Davis chats with The Scores Report

CBS analyst and SI writer Seth Davis is partnering with Coke Zero in promoting their Department of Fannovation Brain Bracket, where 64 hand-picked ideas to improve the fan experience will go head-to-head in single elimination format until a winner is announced. (My favorite is the one where arenas would have actual working decibel monitors pop up on the big screen to encourage the crowd to make more noise.)

Seth took time out of his busy schedule this week to chat with TSR about Kentucky’s youth, Duke’s versatility, tournament expansion and even the NBA’s age-limit rule.

The Scores Report: Hey Seth, how are you doing?

Seth Davis: Doing all right, man, how are you doing?

TSR: Good to talk to you. It’s an exciting week of basketball.

SD: Yeah, it’s always good this time of year. It’s the best.

TSR: I just saw your video of your Final Four picks over at, and it turns out we have the same picks.

SD: That is definitely the most popular combination, it sounds like. I don’t know if that’s a good sign for you.

TSR: Yeah I don’t know either. Is there any pressure when you’re doing these picks, not to pick four #1 seeds?

SD: You know what, there kind of is. There’s a little bit of pressure to look for upsets, but I try to do what I honestly think, and in the past, I’m usually Mr. Upset, but looking at this bracket, I wasn’t feeling it. I wish I felt otherwise. It might surprise people to learn given how brilliant my picks are, when they hand me that bracket in the studio, before the selection show, I take about four minutes to fill out the whole thing. I just go with my instinct and go with what I see, and that’s where my pen led me.

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Seth Davis’ Final Four Picks

I’m interviewing CBS’s Seth Davis later today, so I thought I’d go over to and bone up on his bracket picks. It turns out he has the same Final Four picks as mine: Kansas, Syracuse, West Virginia and Duke.

The race for the #1 seeds

Being a #1 seed isn’t crucial, but it is important. Seventeen of the last 29 national champions were #1 seeds, so being a top seed would seem to give a team inside track on a title. (However, these are the top teams in the country, so we expect them to perform well.)

SI’s Seth Davis, who by the way I’ll be interviewing next Tuesday, discusses the current projected #1 seeds and how things can change over the next two and a half days.

Are Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse all going to be No. 1 seeds even if they lose their first game in their conference tournaments?

Not necessarily. You’ll recall that back in 2007, UCLA entered the Pac-10 tournament as everybody’s overall No. 1 seed. The Bruins lost to California in the quarterfinals and ended up as a 2 seed. It obviously didn’t cause much of a problem for them as they still reached the national championship game (where they lost to Florida), but if any of the Big Three repeat that feat, I’d say there’s a better chance than not they would fall to the 2 line.

Does Duke have the inside track to a No. 1 seed if it wins the ACC tournament?

Not necessarily. Kansas State could ring a few bells if it upsets Kansas en route to the Big 12 title, but the real threat to Duke’s claim to a No. 1 is West Virginia. My colleague Andy Glockner is the only bracket expert I’ve seen to peg West Virginia as a 1 seed right now, but while I disagree with that assessment as things stand today, the Mountaineers would almost assuredly vault to a 1 seed if they win the Big East tournament, especially if it includes a victory over Syracuse. Heading into their respective conference tourneys, Duke is 7-4 against the top 50 of the RPI and 15-4 against the top 100, while West Virginia is 6-4 and 15-6. Duke’s worst loss is at No. 104 N.C. State while West Virginia’s is at home against No. 61 UConn. Throw in a win over Syracuse and the Mountaineers would — and should — come out on top.

Incidentally, the other candidate, Villanova, would probably not vault over Duke if the Wildcats win the Big East tournament. Villanova is 5-5 against the top 50 and 13-6 against the top 100.

Syracuse’s #1 seed is in some jeopardy after dropping its game to Georgetown. It’s not often that a team enters the tournament as a #1 seed after losing two straight (or three of its last seven). After losing to Louisville at home, the Orange did beat Villanova and Georgetown before losing to Louisivlle to end the regular season and dropping its first Big East tourney game against the Hoyas. It would be tough for the committee to give West Virginia a #1 seed (over the Orange) seeing as Syracuse beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown, 72-71.

Kansas and Kentucky look safe. We can cross Villanova off the list of potential #1s after the Wildcats lost to Marquette in the Big East Championship. That leaves Duke, West Virginia, Purdue and Kansas State. If any of those teams go on to with their respective conference tournaments, a case could be made that they should get the fourth #1 seed.

Fake controversy mars end of Western Kentucky-Gonzaga game

There was some controversy at the end of the Western Kentucky/Gonzaga game. WKU head coach Ken McDonald tried to call a timeout, but the refs didn’t see him. There was one Hilltopper — A.J. Slaughter — trying to call a timeout, but even he didn’t look like he was sure about what he was doing. He was facing the middle of the court sort of half-heartedly calling a timeout instead of looking around and trying to get the attention of the ref. Moreover, Jeremy Evans grabbed the ball out of the basket and inbounded the ball almost immediately, so the refs did their job by trying to get down court. If McDonald wants his team to call a timeout there, he needs to cover that in practice. The clock stops on a make at the end of the second half, so there’s no rush to get the ball in. The players on the court have time to take a breath and look to the bench. Since Evans inbounded the ball so quickly, there wasn’t time for that to happen.

In the post game, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis argued about whether or not the refs were to blame. Anthony said, “Absolutely the officials missed it on this occasion. There’s no doubt about it. You’ve gotta have some assumption there as an official and still if that play continues, Seth, you’ve at least gotta give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Davis disagreed by pointing out that there was only one player signaling for a timeout and he didn’t do it emphatically. Meanwhile, he said, they inbounded the ball right away and the refs are running down court.

Davis is absolutely right in this case. The officials are trying to officiate the game. They aren’t looking at every player to see if they are halfheartedly calling a timeout. They’re not even supposed to be looking at the coaches to see if they want a timeout, especially when the team inbounds the ball immediately. Their focus is supposed to be on the action.

The bottom line here is that the Hilltoppers were ill prepared for this scenario and that McDonald’s fault. Period.

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