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Opening Arguments

65 and counting

Maybe it's just the editorial-writing cynic in me, but I'd say if they're "considering" it, it's pretty much a done deal:

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ninety-six teams could make the men's tournament if the NCAA decides to expand from the current field of 65.

During a news conference Thursday, NCAA representatives discussed the expansion models under consideration and spent the most time discussing a 96-team field. Although 32 teams would receive first-round byes under that model, the tournament still would finish in three weeks.

The 96-team format would start two days later than the current setup because it would eliminate the Tuesday play-in game. It would conclude the same day, the first Monday of April. The NCAA says the change would necessitate no additional travel time for teams, although there likely would be games Tuesday and Wednesday between the first two weekends.

If expansion does happen, it would coincide with the signing of a new television deal -- either with current partner CBS or another network.

Oh, drat, a new TV deal. I thought they just wanted to give more teams a chance to compete and thereby raise the nation's self-esteem level several notches, and it turns out to be about money. Who'd have thunk it? You know whose self-esteem is really going to be at risk? The players in the NIT tournament. They already know they're playing for the right to be called the 66th best team in the nation. Who will want to brag about being 97th best? We're in the top 100!