The best event in the country just got much better today as the NCAA has decided to expand the NCAA Tournament field to 68 teams and, more importantly, will broadcast every game live for the first time in history.
The tournament scenario has turned into a soap opera the past few weeks as many believed expansion to 96 teams was basically a done deal. Public uproar in opposition to this was major and it appears that the NCAA has listened and adjusted. The 68 team field will go into effect next season as there will be a play in game in all four regions to see who has the unenviable task of taking on the respective one-seed. For the last few years, there has only been one play in game to dictate who plays the overall #1 seed but this small expansion will give three more schools the opportunity to participate in the tournament.
What is even more exciting for fans like ourselves is that we will finally be able to watch every tournament game live on TV regardless of market. The tourney will be aired on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV and they will all split coverage of the first two rounds. Up until 2016, the regional semifinals will be split between CBS and Turner before CBS takes over sole possession of the regional finals, final four, and title game. The interesting part is that beginning in 2016, CBS and TBS will basically split broadcast rights to the regional files and the final four and championship game will alternate on a yearly basis.
Overall, this seems like a home run for the NCAA and its fans. Expansion was absolutely a must seeing as how new division one teams pop up every year but we have only seen a one team increase in the tournament over that time. Secondly, expanding to 68 ensures a better product and it also protects the NIT and other tournaments. Expanding to 96 would probably have made the NIT, CBI, and everything else obsolete but with only 68, those events should continue on unchanged.