By this point, you've all seen John Feinsten savage Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's senior VP for basketball and business strategies. Ignoring the fact that the NCAA somehow squares their arguments that it's all about the student-athlete with the fact they have a dude whose job is "basketball and business strategies," I'd like to point you to the rest of that press conference. Mainly where they stop talking about scheduling and start getting real(ly obfuscatory):
Q. But isn't that essentially then just being a kind of money grab because you're just adding an extra day of revenue, extra TV dates, stuff like that, without truly improving the field?
GREG SHAHEEN: You have the same core teams that are of the quality, the top 34 teams right now compete in the championship. So it's not the top 65 teams necessarily in Division I that compete in the championship as it is now. This affords more teams the opportunity to have the shot or opportunity to compete for the title.
So in terms of watering it down, using your term, the reality is there are more teams on any given model, in any given year now, that have upset teams that are in the top 25 or top 50, depending on the measures, than you've ever had before, including teams that are below the traditional threshold of where a team would make it into the tournament as an at-large member.
So the opportunity for there to be an upset on any given day is part of what makes the tournament great, it's part of what's made the tournament great for the last 25 years. It's the opportunity to be able to grow it from there.
Translation: The great thing about the NCAA tournament is it's upsets. But don't worry, they won't happen to the good teams. Except they will. But they won't. The important thing is growth. Of our stock portfolio.
Q. Greg, do you really think that people in this country want to watch teams in the 30s play teams in the 90s? Isn't this going to really water down the regular season even more than it already is?
GREG SHAHEEN: Well, throughout the season right now people go watch teams in the 30s play teams in the 90s. Actually, there are a number of sold-out games where you have teams playing in the top 10 that play teams in the 300s, and the room is completely sold.
There are about 175 teams that have at or over a .500 regular-season schedule this year, and there are at or over 155 teams that have a .500 record in their conference. So the notion that going from a 65- to a 96-team championship in some way takes teams that would otherwise be staying at home or would otherwise not be capable of winning a game on any given day, at least relative to the current field structure and quality, I think merits some reexamination.
As we've gone more into it and had discussions, I think you get comfortable with the fact that when you study the regular season, you recognize that there are teams playing that may be a top one or two line seed that, with regularity, play a team that would be in the bottom 10% of Division I. And we're talking nothing in that neighborhood. We're talking about all teams that would be easily in the top third of Division I.
See, what the tournament has really been missing is all the excitement of the cupcake matches that happen in December. Because people buy tickets to those. Which means money. Which we like. For the student-athletes. Who we will not be paying.
When it comes right down to it, we feel that every team over .500, and a couple below deserve the chance to sell tickets to their fanbase on the national stage. For the money. Which we like. Also, we will be scrapping the National Championship Trophy in favor of the National Participant's Trophy. T-shirts for the 96 teams winning this year's NPT are available in the lobby. Good night.