Holiday Hoops Light Up College Campuses

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basketballThe men’s college basketball season is in transition right now as teams finish up their non-conference activity before starting their nine week push to the post season. No games will be played on Thursday and Friday for Christmas, but come Saturday West Virginia and Seton Hall will open up Big East action.

Top teams playing during the final week of the year include North Carolina, Temple, Connecticut, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Washington, Tennessee, and Georgetown. By the way, the Top 6 spots in the AP poll are occupied by unbeaten teams with a seventh unbeaten, New Mexico, ranked No. 12.

UNC Looks Human

As expected, there have been some surprises so far this season with the defending national champion Tarheels looking vulnerable several times. Indeed, at 8-3, UNC is one loss away from last season’s loss total, with one of those defeats being a sixteen point beat down at home courtesy of the Syracuse Orangemen.

But the ACC season has yet to start which means that Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, and the rest won’t be taking the Heels lightly.

Expanded NCAA Tournament?

Like major college football, Division 1 men’s basketball is going through its own times of testing with some people calling for the post season tournament to be expanded from 65 teams to 96, perhaps including as many as128 teams.

Why the talk about expansion? Besides the obvious, money, a bolstered NCAA tournament would welcome many schools who don’t qualify for the tournament despite winning 20-25 games in the season.

As it stands now, the NCAA takes the conference winner from some 30+ conferences, but fills the remaining 34 or so berths with at large teams. These teams are from power conferences such as the Big East, ACC, and SEC which means that if a mid-major school is upset in the conference tournament, then all they have to look forward to is the NIT. You guessed it: no one aspires to playing in the NIT which should have been scrapped long ago.

March Madness

While football is attempting to resolve its bowl season and lack of playoffs, men’s basketball should carefully weigh expansion as 96 or 128 teams would introduce a 7th game into the playoff picture and water down the tournament. Then again with 334 teams now playing on the Division 1 level, there is room to add more games, making the month of March truly one filled with madness.

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