The National Collegiate Athletic Association has just announced that it will be expanding the teams included in the March Madness Division I men’s basketball tournament from a total of 64 in the first round to 128.
This means that each quadrant will begin with 32 teams. The top 16 will be seeded according to the NCAA March Madness bracket rules with the following 16 teams unranked. The NCAA committee felt that by doing this, more collegiate teams would be able to be involved in March Madness and the tournament would gain more media recognition across the nation.
The four regions will remain in the South, West, East and Midwest, and teams will still compete at the four neutral locations.
For this expansion to be successful, the tournament must begin four days prior to what it has in the past in order to play all of the first round games. After this first round, the committee estimates that at least two days in between the first and second round will be given to let people make and submit their brackets.
The NCAA men’s division I basketball committee is currently composed of 10 members who are responsible for selecting the teams and seeding the bracket for the tournament. After much deliberation, the committee has decided that it will be expanding its membership to 12 members in order to help with selecting the 128 teams for next year’s tournament.
The preliminary dates for the 2019 NCAA men’s division I tournament are currently set to begin March 19-31 for the first, second and regional rounds with the final four semifinals and final championships set for April 6 and 8, respectively. These dates will be modified by the committee to reflect the expansion.
After the upsets that occurred this season in March Madness, who knows if a potential top-ranked 2019 team coming off a dominating regular season and conference championships could get knocked out of the tournament altogether before the brackets are even made.
There have been no reports yet about if the NCAA will also be expanding the women’s division I tournament and how this will affect the National Invitational Tournaments as well.