Possible paths for NCAA tournament
With conferences in flux, the NCAA tournament format faces an uncertain future
Now that the other shoe has dropped in conference realignment, we can finally move on in our discussions about the future of the NCAA tournament. I, for one, am relieved to see Oral Roberts leaving the Summit League for the Southland Conference. Why should BCS schools have all the fun?
But, seriously, it's been at least an hour since anyone has asked what "all this league stuff" means for basketball. The serious answer is the same as it was when the Texas A&M Aggies started dancing with the SEC, when the Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orange took off for the ACC, and when the Big 12 lost the Colorado Buffaloes and Nebraska Cornhuskers last year.
Division I basketball is a spectator. Its revenues pale in comparison to those of major college football. All that matters to athletic departments that are trying to balance their books is the most lucrative affiliation possible. That's why Colorado went west, why Syracuse looked south and why the Boise State Broncos -- who aren't even in the eastern part of Idaho -- could land in the Big East.
Can't you just see that emerging Boise-Providence field hockey rivalry? But I digress.
With so many moving parts, all we can do is speculate about how the NCAA tournament might look in two or three or five years. Based on the conversations I've had with those in and around the sport, I'm seeing up to four possibilities on the horizon and share them only on the condition that you don't hold me to anything since the current state of the game is very much in flux. The four options:
To read what the future of the NCAA tournament may look like, become an ESPN Insider.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- No. 8 Irish need block in OT to thwart NC State
- Coach K gets 1,000th win; Duke tops St. John's
- No. 2 UVa escapes Hokies to stay unbeaten
- Wells' late tip-in caps Maryland's comeback
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider College Basketball
New on Insider
Lunardi: Pac-12 locked into 2 bids?
Player Rankings: Davis over Robinson for POY
Lunardi: Where UW, Northwestern fall
Hume: Bid thieves are few
Bilas: Sizing up the Big East
Gasaway: Pac-12 stronger than it seems
Hume: Best bets among bubble teams
Lunardi: VCU may be first bid thief
Ford: Time running out for 5 NBA prospects
Lunardi: How UConn, Texas, others earn bids
Lunardi: Latest look at the bubble
Fraschilla: Previewing Big 12 tournament
Bilas Index: UNC remains at No. 3
Pomeroy: Trends predict UNC-Duke clash
Lunardi: No No. 1 seed for Big Ten?
Player Rankings: Purdue's pivotal players
Ford: Will MKG, Cody Zeller stay in school?
Gasaway: Rebounding won't crush Orange
Telep: UCLA's top recruits remain committed
Bilas: How Michigan State can still improve
Bilas: Keys to the Hoyas' continued success
Lunardi: Watch out for NCAA bid thieves
Lunardi Rundown: Kentucky is No. 1 overall
Bilas Index: Kansas returns to the top five
Make smart bracket picks by spotting Cinderella early.
And don't forget these Insider mainstays:
Doug Gottlieb, Fran Fraschilla, Joe Lunardi and Jay Williams offer their opinions.
Insights from the mind of the College Gameday analyst.
The national recruiting analyst weighs in on news and rumors surrounding the top high school prospects.
Stay on top of all the latest recruiting buzz.
Every D-1 player's efficiency rating.