What Could’ve Saved Us From 96 Team Madness

Jay Christiansen at TheWizardofOdds.com links a story Friday that quietly uncovers one of the main reasons for the insane expansion of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from 64 to 96 teams. The story is about the Cal athletic department, but before you roll your eyes, read on.

Robert Birgeneau Cal President Demands Athletic Dept. Accountability

(Meet the soon to be most-hated man in women’s college sports history)

Nanette Asimov of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports this week that UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau made what will soon be a wildly unpopular but perfectly justified decision to demand that the Cal athletic department stop losing money.

Birgeneau also set a deadline, asking Cal’s “money-losing Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for solutions by June on getting it to solvency.

One small problem with that idea. Getting most major university athletic departments to solvency would mean dropping virtually all the sports programs. Besides football and men’s basketball, what sport at Cal or any major school is actually solvent? With few exceptions, there aren’t any. Welcome to reality.

The vast majority of NCAA sports gush red ink, which is certainly related to why the NCAA is currently in a desperate bid for a cash infusion via the expansion of the NCAA Tournament from 64 to 96 teams.

The extra dollars raised by the expansion of the March Madness field will go to being able to continue to stage an eye-popping 87 NCAA Championships per year. That’s precisely why the NCAA Board of Directors is increasing the men’s basketball tournament field - despite what the governing body may tell the public.

Those additional monies though will not go directly to any schools, who have their own problems with massive shortfalls. Those shortfalls are precisely the reason you are now seeing rampant talk of conference expansion and possible super conferences. Read more…

Poll: Dance With Nantz Or Get On The Gus Bus?

I’m starting to sense that the NCAA Tournament-spawned online popularity of Gus Johnson is transitioning from a quasi-mocking tone to a genuine appreciation for his excitable on-air style. A style that’s a complete departure from virtually all national television network play-by-play guys.

Gus Johnson and Jim Nantz

(Gusgasms Keep March Madness Fans Gushing)

So why have so many people responded positively to what some might consider Johnson’s contrived, showboating style? Because the people who matter obviously think what he does is instead a natural outpouring of affection for the game.

With 96 looming, if any major sporting ever needed more of that right damn now, it’s March Madness.

Your 2011 NCAA Hoops Tournament Final Four Announcer:

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So I want to take your temperature on who you’d prefer in the booth for future Final Fours. That is, to find out if you actually do take Johnson seriously as a candidate to replace Jim Nantz.

Read more…