Count Florida coach Billy Donovan as someone who wouldn’t mind having the NCAA Tournament expand from 65 to 96 teams.
The Sports Business Journal reported last month the NCAA is exploring the idea. The NCAA can opt out of its current TV deal with CBS this summer and may look to expand the tournament to increase broadcast revenue from cable outlets like ESPN and TNT.
Under the proposed plan, the top 32 seeds would receive byes and the NIT would essentially “fold” into the NCAA Tournament.
“I always believe that expanding the tournament is a good thing for a lot of kids that never get a chance to go to the tournament,” Donovan said. “You know, how it all works, how they do it, the 65 teams now, the formula that they’ve had has been very, very good. But I think at the same point, too, there’s nothing wrong with expanding.”
After making nine straight NCAA Tournament, a stretch that included three Final Four appearances and two national titles, Florida has failed to make the NCAA Tournament in each of its last two seasons. A third straight trip to the NIT isn’t out of the question this season. Despite impressive early-season wins against Michigan State and Florida State, Florida is currently 11-4 with a Ratings Percentage Index of 81 and a strength of schedule of 130. The Gators will probably need nine to 10 SEC wins and a win in its final non-conference game against Xavier on Feb. 13 to reach the tournament for the first time since 2007.
Donovan made a postseason comparison between college football and college basketball to support the idea of expanding the tournament. In college football, more than 50 percent (68 of 120) of Division I teams made it to bowl games. In college basketball, less than 20 percent (65 of 343 teams) of Division I teams make the NCAA Tournament.
“I think when you look at the percentage of teams in football that play in bowl games in relation to the percentage of teams that play in an NCAA Tournament it’s probably a huge differential,” Donovan said.