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Joe Lunardi Is Proposing A Wild 80-Team NCAA Tournament With Byes, Double Automatic Bids And Bracket Buster Play-In Games

[Source] -  It will be incredibly important to give the conference seasons as much meaning as possible. To that end, the regular-season champion of each receives an automatic NCAA bid. Conveniently, that is 32 spots.

  • The conference tournaments are next and could result in up to 32 additional automatic bids (if a different team wins the regular-season title). Why would any conference not position itself to have a second team in the NCAA field? Because all double winners -- regular season and conference tournament -- receive a bye into the main 64-team bracket, protected seeding and an additional revenue unit.

  • In a typical year, there would be 52-56 automatic bids (including 12-16 double winners). The remainder of an 80-team field will play down to 64 by extending the current First Four to a new and improved "Bracket Busters" concept. The University of Dayton Arena, plus as many of the existing first-weekend sites as needed, would host doubleheaders or tripleheaders on the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after Selection Sunday

 I like to think I'm pretty progressive when it comes to changing and ideas when it comes to sports. However, I can't stress this enough, don't change the NCAA Tournament. No thank you at all. I said this before when Frank Haith proposed the 96-team Tournament. We don't need any of that. Yes, it sounds more and more like there won't be a true nonconference and likely a 20-26 game season playing just conference games. Right off the bat that's enough to get a 68 team NCAA Tournament, the way it is and they way it should be. 


I don't even hate the idea of giving the conference regular season winner an automatic bid but there has to be a qualifier here. Each conference that does that HAS to play a true round-robin style like the Big 12 and Big East. You can't play an unbalanced schedule across the conference and hand out a bid that way. No thank you. Now if the Big East/Big 12 or any other conference that goes to the round-robin style decides to hand it to the regular season winner, I don't have a problem with that. Sure conference tournaments are way more exciting and provide entertainment, it's obviously more fair to give an automatic bid based on a 20-26 game schedule instead of 3-4 games. 

Now the Bracket Buster play-in thing is interesting. I'm all for mid-majors getting bids if deserved, but playing a play-in tournament changes a bunch of things. The way Lunardi is talking about it is essentially putting the last four in, the play-in games, the first four out, etc all together. Can we just do that for the nonconference somehow though? That's my question - obviously it would take a bubble and would likely have to adjust NCAA amateurism rules, but I'm listening here. 

So I appreciate that Frank Haith, Lunardi and others are willing to talk about different ideas, this is just one to pass on. There's something perfect about the NCAA Tournament set up. Three weeks, the Thursday-Sunday followed by Final Four/title game Monday. Just keep that. Let's not overthink things just because teams are always on the bubble.  

No need to change the perfect event and perfect month. Please just give us that.