Dan Guerrero is not only the UCLA AD, he is also the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee. He and the committee just revealed a new "first four" set of games -- games to be played between the final four at-large teams and the final four automatic entries. The extra set of games means that 68 teams (up from 65) will be in the NCAA tournament:
The final four at-large teams and final four automatic qualifiers in the newly minted 68-team NCAA men's basketball tournament field will meet for the right to enter the traditional 64-team draw, tournament selection committee chairman Dan Guerrero announced Monday.
The "First Four" will be played either the Tuesday or Wednesday after Selection Sunday. The winners of the four games will advance to what will now be called the "second round" on either Thursday or Friday. The newly named third round -- with 16 games -- will be Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the tournament -- regional semifinals (Sweet 16) and regional finals (Elite Eight) -- will remain as they have been, as will the Final Four, which is set for Houston in 2011.
The games will be televised on TruTv (formerly CourtTV), which is available in 93 million homes, said NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen, who manages the NCAA tournament. CBS, Turner, TBS and TruTV are in their first year of a $10.8 billion, 14-year television agreement. ESPN had carried the tournament's opening-round game in previous years
More after the flip.
"The teams selected for these games will be like teams," Guerrero said. "We felt if we were going to expand the field it would create better drama for the tournament if the First Four was much more exciting. They could all be on the 10 line or the 12 line or the 11 line. We won't know until the seeding takes place and the principles and procedures are used and the teams are slotted appropriately."
Seems to me like a lot of work for just three additional teams. My guess: This is just a precursor to a much larger expansion down the line. At the moment, the NCAA appears to just be testing the water -- I wouldn't be surprised to see a much more substantial addition of teams in the near future.