Duke basketball alum Jay Bilas rails against "profoundly stupid" idea of tournament expansion

Over the weekend, Duke basketball alum Jay Bilas blasted what he referred to as a "profoundly stupid" idea of expanding the NCAA Tournament from 68 to 96 teams in an epic rant against the NCAA.
Jumpman Classic: Michigan v North Carolina
Jumpman Classic: Michigan v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Just when the NCAA seemed as if it had run out of senseless ideas, the association's leadership has now started floating the idea of changing the format of the best tournament in sports. However, Duke basketball alum and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas spoke for the majority of fans this weekend on College GameDay when he blasted the notion of expanding the field of the NCAA Tournament.

“Never underestimate the NCAA’s capacity to do something stupid,” Bilas said. “And, if they did this, it would be profoundly stupid. When anyone says more teams need access to the tournament: every team has the same access to the tournament now. All you have to do is win your conference automatic bid, which is against your peers with a group of teams you have chosen to be among.”

The remarks come just days after NCAA president Charlie Barker told ESPN that he is in favor of exploring the idea of adding more teams to the field.

"I certainly think there's an opportunity there to do more," Barker said, " to find a way to bring more teams into the tournament...it's obviously an issue that's top of mind for everybody."

That idea is one that Bilas appears wholeheartedly against and he pulled no punches when sharing his thoughts on Saturday.

“What are we going to do now? We’re going to go to 96 and we’re going to print the bracket out first on legal paper then on a roll of toilet paper and just roll it out. It doesn’t make any sense.” Bilas asked.

To expand the tournament would be nothing more than a money grab for the NCAA, which is why it will likely happen. Another round of the tournament means more television spots that can be sold and more attention on the event which would, in turn, mean more advertising revenue generated both on broadcasts and in the arenas themselves.

However, doing so would only serve to dilute the field even further. Either more mid-major teams would get into the event, teams that didn't win their conference tournament, or more mediocre major-conference teams would be included. Either way, none of the extra teams would likely ever challenge for a spot in the Final Four.

As proof, simply consider who the bubble teams this year would be if the field were expanded to 96 in 2024. One team that would be projected to make the field would be LSU, which at 14-13 overall has losses to Nichols and Dayton this year.

Another team that would be included might be Maryland. Their 15-13 record features losses to Davidson, UAB, and Rutgers.

Would the thought of Washington in the NCAA Tournament excite anyone? Also 15-13, they have lost to three Mountain West teams (though the Mountain West is the strongest mid-major league this year) and they are in 9th place in the PAC-12 race with a 7-10 record.

ESPN also projects that VCU would be in a 96-team field. The Rams are only in 4th place in the Atlantic-10 Conference and have losses to McNeese, Boise State, Norfolk State, St. Bonaventure (twice), and UMASS.

The argument Barker and many others make for expanding the tournament is that it would increase access to the game's premier event for more teams. That's rather ironic given the way the NCAA has handled its football playoff.

Even when the NCAA was strong-armed into creating a playoff because there simply was too much television money to turn down, they only agreed to let four teams into the field even though there were five major conferences at the time.

What's more, even now that the field is expanding to 12 teams this coming season, only 12 of the 130+ teams will get a shot at the playoff. That's only 8.9% of the teams in the country who will have "access" to that prestigious event.

On the other hand, a 96-team basketball tournament would mean that over 27% of the 351 Division-I teams would make the field. So why does the basketball tournament mean more for access and opportunity than the football playoff? Because of unique and irrational NCAA logic. That's why.

In the end, Bilas' point of view is the one most fans agree with. However, the fans aren't the ones who will be making the decisions.

If that were to be the case, the NCAA Tournament would stay as it is. However, because people motivated by nothing but money are the ones that will pull the strings, one of the most beautiful and perfect events in all of spots is likely to be forever changed and diluted. Unfortunately, that's something that not even a voice as powerful as Bilas' will be able to prevent.