April 14, 2010

How the 96-team field might have looked

MORE: Coaches believe expansion is inevitable | Mid-majors may not benefit

Here is a look at what a 96-team bracket might have looked like this season.

Presumably, because of the 31-team addition to the field, the NCAA would re-write some of the rules governing matchups in the tournament. You'd have to think there would be a rule against teams from the same leagues meeting in the first round, but it likely would be "all bets are off" after the first round.

Indications are that the top eight seeds - 32 teams - would receive first-round byes, with No. 9 seeds playing No. 24 seeds, No. 10 seeds playing No. 23 seeds, No. 11s playing No. 22s, No. 12s playing No. 21s, No. 13s playing No. 20s, No. 14s playing No. 19s, No. 15s playing No. 18s and No. 16s playing No. 17s.

In the scenario described, the top team in a seeded group would meet the bottom team in its adjoining seeding group, the second team in a group would meet the second-worst in the group and so on. For example, No. 9 Northern Iowa would meet No. 24 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, No. 9 Wake Forest would play No. 24 Winthrop, No. 9 Louisville would face No. 24 Lehigh and No. 9 Florida State would meet No. 24 East Tennessee State.

In the second round, it would be No. 1s playing 16/17s, No. 2s playing 15/18s, etc.

The first two rounds would take place on the first weekend of the tournament, with the "traditional" Thursday-Sunday setup.

The third round would take place on the following Tuesday and Wednesday; the fourth round (the Sweet 16 games) would take place on Thursday and Friday, while the fifth round (the Elite Eight games) would happen on Saturday and Sunday. The Final Four would be the following weekend.

Here is how the field may have shaped up this season:

Rivals.com Drive for 96
No. 1s
1. Kansas
2. Kentucky
3. Duke
4. Syracuse
No. 2s
5. Kansas State
6. Villanova
7. West Virginia
8. Ohio State
No. 3s
9. Georgetown
10. New Mexico
11. Baylor
12. Pittsburgh
No. 4s
13. Vanderbilt
14. Purdue
15. Wisconsin
16. Maryland
No. 5s
17. Michigan State
18. Temple
19. Texas A&M
20. Butler
No. 6s
21. Xavier
22. Notre Dame
23. Marquette
24. Tennessee
No. 7s
25. Oklahoma State
26. Clemson
27. Richmond
28. BYU
No. 8s
29. Gonzaga
30. California
31. Texas
32. UNLV
No. 9s
33. Northern Iowa
34. Wake Forest
35. Louisville
36. Florida State
No. 10s
37. Florida
38. Saint Mary's
39. Missouri
40. Georgia Tech
No. 11s
41. San Diego State
42. Washington
43. Old Dominion
44. Minnesota
No. 12s
45. UTEP
46. Utah State
47. Cornell
48. New Mexico State
No. 13s
49. Illinois
50. Virginia Tech
51. Mississippi State
52. Siena
No. 14s
53. Arizona State
54. Ole Miss
55. UAB
56. Rhode Island
No. 15s
57. Cincinnati
58. Dayton
59. USF
60. Memphis
No. 16s
61. Wichita State
62. Seton Hall
63. Connecticut
64. Murray State
No. 17s
65. Kent State
66. North Carolina
67. Tulsa
68. Wofford
No. 18s
69. Texas Tech
70. William & Mary
71. Northeastern
72. Illinois State
No. 19s
73. St. John's
74. Nevada
75. N.C. State
76. Northwestern
No. 20s
77. Virginia Commonwealth
78. Charlotte
79. Marshall
80. Louisiana Tech
No. 21s
81. Houston
82. Portland
83. Saint Louis
84. Oakland
No. 22s
85. Sam Houston State
86. Montana
87. Ohio University
88. UC Santa Barbara
No. 23s
89. Morgan State
90. Robert Morris
91. North Texas
92. Vermont
No. 24s
93. East Tennessee State
94. Lehigh
95. Winthrop
96. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
(When looking at the numbers, remember that this was a down season in the Pac-10 and SEC.)
13: Big East (in the "real" tournament, the league received eight bids)
9: ACC (six)
8: Big 12 (seven)
7: Atlantic 10 (three), Big Ten (five)
6: Conference USA (two), SEC (four)
4: Colonial (one), Mountain West (four), WAC (two)
3: Missouri Valley (one), Pac-10 (two), West Coast (two)
2: Mid-American (one)
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt (each of these 17 leagues received one this season).
NOTE: Of the 31 added bids, 14 would've gone to Big Six leagues - five to the Big East, three to the ACC, two each to the Big Ten and SEC and one each to the Big 12 and Pac-10. Of the other 17, four each would've gone to the Atlantic 10 and Conference USA, three to the Colonial, two each to the Missouri Valley and WAC and one each to the MAC and West Coast.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.


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