To expand, or not to expand

CLEMSON - The old saying, ‘If it ain't broke, don't fix it' still works today, especially when it comes to the madness that is the NCAA Tournament.

There's nothing broken about 65 teams battling on a national stage for the right to be national champion, though some try to lead you to believe that the system is flawed and in need of more teams.

It's a beautiful thing.

"March Madness" is a big deal too, such a big deal that "March Madness" is trademarked by the NCAA. So are "Elite Eight" and "Final Four."

Notice the "quotes."

Division I basketball is big business and people want in. Right now, 347 teams compete in men's Division I college basketball. Not all are eligible for one of the 65 spots in the NCAA Tournament, but the vast majority are.

Power conference bubble teams feel the heat and don't want to be looked over. Neither do quality resume mid-major teams that were upset during conference tournament play, losing a guaranteed bid.

Ask any coach of the 300 or so NCAA Tournament eligible basketball teams about the potential expansion. Of course, they're going to like having a better chance at earning a dance card.

Clemson coach Oliver Purnell "leans" toward the NCAA Tournament expanding from 65 to 96, 128—whatever. He doesn't focus on a number. He's "yet to do the math."

"Those other teams will be in there. I just think there will be more excitement, more fan-bases from those schools who are immersed in that tournament," Purnell said. "That's more people and more excitement. People get excited about the NCAA Tournament, but they get a lot more excited when their team is in it."

His beef with the current system starts with the bubble talk.

"This year, we were playing Maryland and people were saying both of us were on the bubble. Are you kidding me? Those teams don't belong in the NCAA?"

Weeks and months after that game, it was a given that both teams were going to be selected on Sunday.

In the weeks leading to Sunday's selection show, Purnell lobbied for several ACC bubble teams to be in. Clemson was one of six teams chosen for the tournament. Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida State made it too.

Virginia Tech was left out and picked up a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

"There are just enough good teams that are on the bubble, particularly in the power conferences that are clearly teams that could make runs in the NCAA Tournament," Purnell said.

Isn't that the beauty of it?

Unlike college football, which allows for majority of its Division I teams into bowl games, being just good enough doesn't get you into the NCAA Tournament.

For those who want a bigger post-season college basketball, here's an idea.

*Mandate regular season games to be played against only Division I schools.

*Knock out two, maybe three regular season games.

*Keep all post-season conference tournaments—they can still be used for automatic bids.

*Divide the conferences into four accurate geographical regions for a national post-season tournament.

With some tweaking, that might work, for football too.

Eh, forget it. It's March.

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