The NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, colloquially known as March Madness, began in 1939 as an eight-team men's tournament. This was expanded to 16 teams in 1951 before fluctuating between 22 and 25 teams from 1953 to 1975. It expanded to 32 teams in 1975 and slowly increased the number of attendees until hitting 64 in 1985. The tournament as we know it today, with 68 total teams, was implemented in 2012. The women's tournament began in 1982 and hit the 68-team mark in 2022.
However, there have long been calls to increase the field further. As the parity of college basketball grows, more and more "worthy" teams are left out come Selection Sunday. This has led to the rise of secondary tournaments such as the NIT and CBI. However, one coach has put forward a radical proposal during his conference meetings.
Hamilton Wants 136-Team Tournament
Leonard Hamilton has coached the Florida State men's basketball team since 2002. While never a major ACC contender, Hamilton has led to two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. However, 2022/23 was a down year, as the team finished 9-23 and 12th in the conference. But at the ACC Coaches meeting this week, Hamilton put forward a radical proposal to double the size of March Madness."I believe the NCAA tournament is the greatest sporting event in the world. It captivates everybody's imagination for about three weeks," Hamilton said. "Parity has set in. I might be a little ridiculous when I make this comment, but I think you could double it."
Doubling March Madness would equate to 128 teams in the final bracket, plus an eight-team preliminary tournament a la the "first four". If this model was applied to the 2023 tournament, that would mean that, according to the NET rankings system, it would include teams such as Stephen F. Austin (16-13). The prevailing opinion among pro-expansion proponents is that the optimal number to expand to is 96. That would have set the benchmark of the 2022/23 tournament as Stanford (14-19). In the women's tournament, 128 teams would be capped at Temple (11-18) while 96 teams would be capped at Tulane (17-14). What do you think about doubling March Madness? Let us know in the comments below.