ACC Commissioner John Swofford told reporters in Amelia Island, Fla., that the league's basketball coaches wanted to grow the NCAA tourney because, by the percentages, there are far more postseason opportunities for FBS football teams than for Division I men's hoops squads.
In the 2017-18 school year, 80 of the 129 football programs in the FBS sent a team to the postseason.
Conversely, 136 of the 351 Division I men's basketball programs made postseason play — 68 to the NCAA Tournament, 32 to the NIT, 20 to the CIT and 16 to the CBI.
That means "only" 38.7 percent of Division I men's hoops programs experienced the postseason this school year, compared to 62 percent of FBS football programs which did so.
So Swofford envisions the NCAA Tournament adding a second "First Four" somewhere in the western part of the country. That would be in addition to the existing two-night, eight-team March Madness elimination round held each year in Dayton, Ohio.
Alas, there are multiple reasons why an NCAA tourney enlargement is the wrong approach for the betterment of college basketball:
Reason one: Making the NCAA tourney bracket overly complex undermines what made the event popular with the masses in the first place.
The 64-team bracket adopted in 1985 is the primary reason March Madness holds such an iconic place in the American sports calendar. It was an easily-followed format for fans to fill out brackets and compete against each other in tourney pools.
Currently at 68 teams, you've already added four play-in games to that basic 64-team bracket. At 72, you are adding another four such contests and the bracket starts to cross the "unwieldy threshold."
Reason two: More rewarding of big-conference mediocrity is the last thing the NCAA tourney needs.
If going to 72 bids would increase the tourney participation rate for teams that produced exceptional seasons in mid-level conferences but which lost in their league tournaments — such as Middle Tennessee State and Saint Mary's in 2018 — I might get on board.
Given the recent trends of the selection committee favoring "bubble teams" from power leagues, however, going to 72 would likely just ensure Syracuse can start losing 16 games every season while still making the Big Dance.
Reason three: Contrary to what the coaches believe, additional NCAA Tournament spots will not enhance their job security.
One need only look to football to see how a vastly expanded postseason schedule diminishes the credit a coach gets for earning a berth.
In 2017, Kevin Sumlin coached Texas A&M to a 7-5 record, which earned the Aggies a bid to the Belk Bowl.
A&M still fired Sumlin.
In 2015, Mark Richt led Georgia to a 9-3 mark, which sent the Bulldogs to the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Nevertheless, Richt got fired.
The more the NCAA Tournament field becomes watered down, the more you will see "making the tournament" discredited as a coaching achievement.
Reason four: Every time you expand the NCAA Tournament field, you devalue the regular season more.
The NCAA tourney is the three best weeks of the American sports calendar.
College basketball's problem on an institutional level is that its compelling postseason renders so much of its regular season insignificant.
On a theoretical level, there's a case that what would really benefit college hoops overall is not expanding the NCAA Tournament, but contracting it.
Go back to 32 teams, get rid of conference tournaments, and allow only league regular-season champions into the NCAA tourney.
Suddenly, with meaningful games from November to March, college hoops would boast the most "must-see" regular season in American sports.
In the real world, the financial bounty yielded by March Madness makes NCAA tourney contraction a fantasy.
Which is fine. As it exists now, the NCAA Tournament is a long-running smash.
The ACC's plea to water the tourney down with an unneeded expansion is the epitome of a "solution" where there is no problem.