Dayton season preview: NCAA tournament expansion coming?

Anthony Grant would be in favor of expanded field

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Jablonski is counting down to the Dayton men’s basketball season opener on Nov. 7 with 25 pieces (one every day until Nov. 7) previewing the 2022-23 season. This is the 14th story.

The expansion of the NCAA tournament has been a topic of conversation this fall.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said it’s something the NCAA has to look at, while Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner said “it’s time to look at expansion.” Southeastern Conference Commissioner got the debate started last summer when he told Sports Illustrated it was time to take a fresh look at the NCAA tournament.

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant, whose program would have earned one NCAA tournament berth in his first five years if the 2020 tournament had taken place, shared his opinion when asked Tuesday before practice at the Cronin Center.

“I think certainly anytime you can add more opportunities for teams to compete in the postseason, I don’t really see a negative to that,” Grant said. “I don’t think it would impact the quality or the attractiveness of the tournament. I guess the first thought that comes to mind for me is maybe it puts more value on what teams do during the course of the regular season as opposed to everything being based on how you perform over any given random weekend at the end of the year. If that creates more opportunities to get more teams that are more than capable of going into the tournament and winning games into it, I’d be in favor of that.”

The NCAA tournament last expanded in 2011 when the field increased by four to 68 teams. That’s when Dayton started hosting the First Four.

There had been talking then of going further than 68 teams. The possibility of expanding to 96 teams was talked about in 2010. The late Charlie Coles, then the Miami RedHawks coach, would have supported that change.

“The more the merrier,” Coles told the Journal News in 2010. “It’s all about the college athletes, the kids, and the more athletes that can get into the tournament and have that experience, the happier they will be.”

That’s one argument for expansion. Baylor’s Scott Drew, whose team won a national championship in 2021, would support a 128-team field.

“I know that sounds like a lot,” Drew told ESPN. “But everybody (would have) to win seven games, so it’s just one additional game. But really, this is why: I think there is great parity and you look in football: about half the teams get to go to the postseason.”

Plenty of national columnists have written about the cons of expanding the tournament in recent weeks.

“Coaches want a bigger tournament because, well, it’s then easier to get in (and they get bonus money for it),” wrote Dan Wetzel, of “Administrators want a bigger tournament because it will increase revenue. Television executives want a bigger tournament because it will generate more viewers for the daytime blocks on truTV. That doesn’t mean the sport needs it.”

John Feinstein argued against expansion in the Washington Post.

“I’ve often said the NCAA tournament is so good that even the NCAA and its TV “partners” can’t ruin it,” Feinstein wrote. “Games now routinely take close to 2½ hours; there are 10 three-minute TV timeouts per game; there are 20-minute halftimes and middle-of-the-night tipoffs. And yet, we remain riveted. Expansion won’t kill the NCAA tournament, but it will make it a lot less fun. The shark hasn’t been jumped yet, but it is looming in the distance.”


Part 1: Fans dreaming big as always

Part 2: A-10 changes tournament format for first time in years

Part 3: A familiar face returns to A-10

Part 4:’s math likes the Flyers

Part 5: Three new walk-ons join roster

Part 6: Grant, Martin don’t look forward to coaching against each other

Part 7: Ranking difficult of non-conference opponents

Part 8: Free-throw percentage a stat to watch for Flyers

Part 9: UD roster again full of international talent

Part 10: Ranking quality of exempt tournaments

Part 11: How Grant’s first six teams compare

Part 12: The rising star of DaRon Holmes II

Part 13: How rare is returning five starters?

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