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There’s Too Many Teams

Sully goes off the rails, creating a new format for Division One hoops

There does not need to be 353 teams in Division 1 basketball. Let’s go on a journey and your old pal Sully is going to explain it all to you. The bloated amount of teams is absolute madness, and even with the wealth of basketball talent that currently walks the earth, you will never be able to fill 353 competitive rosters in college basketball, as you saw tonight with Houston Baptist. Here’s how everything gets fixed:

NCAA tournament goes to 48 teams and Division 1 basketball splits up into a football model of 1-A and 1-AA with 16 conferences in each. No longer are teams permitted to play other schools outside of these two sections (no D2 games). Splitting these divisions up is fairly simple, and will be based on the conference rankings we already have. Here’s what the division would’ve looked like last year.

So you are left with 179 teams in 1A and 174 teams in 1AA. It’s getting cooky, just stay with me! In Division 1A, conference tournaments are completely eliminated. If you win the regular season, you’re automatically in: 16 bids taken out of 48. (Why are we playing 31 games in a season when the season comes down to 3/4 days in a weekend for the overwhelming majority of division 1?) The regular season suddenly has meaning again. All of the teams who won their conference get a bye from the first round (think Thursday and Friday games). 16 teams automatically playing on Saturday or Sunday of opening weekend, simple. So how do we come up with the other 32?

In 1-AA, in the two weekends that used to be conference championship weeks, we have “mid-major tournament week.” As in, all 16 conference winners play back-to-back weekends (with the championship game just before the Selection Show on Sunday) for the chance to go dancing with the big boys. That’s team #17 out of 48.

Then, the First Four is abolished (no shade to Dayton, we would still get tournament games) and 31 at-large teams are carved out of the remaining 16 conferences in 1A. If you are .500 or below in conference play, you are ineligible. I’m sick of 9-9 teams getting in, no more of that. This would also incentivize teams in conferences 7-16 to play stronger schedules, so that they could be higher in the rankings at season’s end to get an at-large bid, which would mean more games played against each other.

Those 32 teams, with the mid-major champion, start the NCAA tournament in the way you’re accustomed to: on Thursday afternoon, and, by the end of Friday, you’re down to the same 32 teams headed into the weekend just like it is now — but they would all be better! You would ensure getting the strongest mid-major you could possibly find against the lowest 1A team to sneak in. Spare me your 14/15/16 seed upset talk. Eventually, those teams lose and the feel good stories dissipate quickly as they came. Wouldn’t it be just as good, if not better, if a SWAC team rattled off 3 in a row to go to the Mid Major Championship Sunday and upset a mid-major juggernaut like last year’s Wofford to go dancing? (And you would also see Wofford play in 3 more competitive games in March, as well, against other mid-major foes)

The year Loyola made their run, for example, they would’ve been firmly in the 1A picture in this scenario. So all those intrepid reporters could still discuss Sister Jean and avoid actually talking about basketball (which is what makes them happy anyway). The bottom 16 is the lowest of the low. The goal should always be to find the best teams to play in the tournament, not to give a field trip to the SWAC tourney champion who got hot for 3 days so they can lose by 30 to North Carolina.

Last rule for you soccer fans: the bottom two 1A conferences are relegated each year, and the top two 1AA conferences move up, giving all leagues on the fringe a reason to be competitive across the board. The only drawback I see to this entire plan, which I have been concocting for years, is that the mid-major champion would have to win four games before getting to the big dance. But you know what? They’re college kids! They can handle it. Ride the high!

When I watch games like tonight’s matchup between Houston Baptist against Dayton, my perfect hypothetical of March tournament basketball comes running back to the forefront of my mind, basically anything to escape actually watching the X’s and O’s of a glorified exhibition. And make no mistake,  this was an exhibition that merely counted in the standings. Did Stephen F Austin beat Duke the other night? Sure! No one is eliminating those games, but that win by SFA isn’t helping them get into the current tournament anyways, it’s all for funsies.

If you disagree with my new tournament I came up with over the last few years…tough! I got the keyboard. If you have a better idea, the comments section is right down there for ya, hoss! Have at it.

Anyways, Dayton came out slower than a gay guy in Alabama, but the end result was never really in doubt. They played a completely lackadaisical first half and still went into the locker room up seven, then absolutely throttled the visiting Huskies to cover a mammoth 30½ point spread (HBU’s half-court shot gave gamblers the over, what a glorious wagering night) en route to 99 points. There is absolutely nothing to take away from this game other than UD taking HBU as lightly as I took this recap. Lots of people scored, lots of dudes were lazy in the first half, Dirt Road Johnson had a bunch of dunks. A walk-on dunked(!), and the rest of the non-scholarship ballers didn’t have the CHEST to throw up a shot while time was expiring. Fans were deprived of a 100-point total from the home team, babies wept across the Miami Valley.

I mailed in this content because we’re going to record another podcast this week with the official voice of the Gaels, Alex Jensen, and then I’m flying on the BR charter to Phoenix to watch the boys take on fellow mid-major St. Mary’s this weekend. I don’t have to prove anything to you people!

Sometimes the General makes everyone watch him eat during a game.

So simply put: the game was boring and it doesn’t need recapitulation. When you beat up your kid brother, you don’t go around bragging about it, you move on with your day until he comes back for more. There will surely be more Houston Baptist’s, even before this calendar year is over, that’s all I’m saying.

There’s a more important game on Sunday, a vital one, and the team has a day off tomorrow, so you do too. Come refreshed and ready to get #LOWD for a game that’s every bit as important as the contests in Maui.

Wear Red, be #LOWD



  1. Blackburn Review©®™

    December 3, 2019 at 11:38 PM

    Sully, I had to sit down and really have a think over this. All in all, I don’t hate your proposal.

    • Sully

      December 3, 2019 at 11:58 PM

      It had you all backwards for a good 20 minutes.

      • Blackburn Review©®™

        December 4, 2019 at 8:35 AM

        I will say this though, the folks really seem to love those 1 v 16, 2 v 15, 3 v 14 games.

        • Turnmill

          December 6, 2019 at 3:26 AM

          I don’t hate it, but too based on conferences instead of individual merit. Why should a Fordham get a pass into the big time but a better program in the horizon or Ohio valley be stuck by their peers. I couldn’t agree more 300+ teams is absurd. If John Crosby can average 20pts a game that’s a sign we need more separation.

          • Blackburn Review©®™

            December 6, 2019 at 10:53 AM

            You make a very solid point with your John Crosby reference.

            • BW

              December 10, 2019 at 11:33 AM

              CBS wont take money out of their own pocket.. only way we get better ball is Amazon creates a new conference to put on Prime TV with the blue bloods of the mid majors.. like Fox did with the Catholic Kabal

  2. Your Mom

    December 4, 2019 at 1:50 AM

    Not a bad proposal….but there should be a few more 1AA teams getting a crack at the tournament. Maybe the final 8 in the Mid-Major week…

    • Chase Hite

      December 4, 2019 at 9:46 AM

      I agree. Too few small teams in this format, it will inevitably turn into a tournament of the top five conferences as they start to refuse to play teams outside those groups. Plus the main draw of March Madness is the choas of the first weekend and the all day events that they are. That first weekend is the best weekend in sports, why mess with it?

    • Blackburn Review©®™

      December 4, 2019 at 10:08 AM

      Casual fans love the lower seeded games.

      • Sully

        December 4, 2019 at 11:08 AM

        My simple answer is: the bottom 20 teams have absolutely no chance of reaching the final 4. Why not see them in a mid major tournament in more competitive games?

  3. Richard Anglin

    December 4, 2019 at 9:08 AM

    Best moment of this offering–the General eating dinner! More of that. How does your new format impact November-December in the Decibel Dungeon? More road trips for my fellow red sweaters?

    • Sully

      December 4, 2019 at 11:08 AM

      The way I see it, under the Sully Scenario, you would get better home/home’s against teams in those conferences I outlined just outside of the Power 6. They would be forced to band together and get better wins at the top to strengthen their conference ranking.

  4. David

    December 4, 2019 at 10:34 AM

    College basketball is fine. Great season that ends with a TREMENDOUS tournament. Fix college football instead.

    • Sully

      December 4, 2019 at 11:08 AM

      I got plenty of ideas for that too!

  5. SammySmithSearchParty

    December 4, 2019 at 10:38 AM

    Long live Chuck Little!!! Great win over the God-fearing huskies.

  6. Buster

    December 4, 2019 at 11:15 AM

    I remember just a few years ago there was only 310 Division 1 teams. They are all chasing the 0.05% chance of getting into the tournament for name recognition and a few $. Along with selling games to fund the athletic department.

    In some ways your idea is already true and is happening before our eyes. I suddenly see all of these “marquee matchups” and early season conference games amongst the power 5. TV money says there is more interest ($$$) in Indiana v Florida St than Indiana v Bethune -Cookman. So the squeeze of shutting out any threats to that model is already taking place. The low conferences will grudgingly go along to get a paycheck to show up for filler games.

    Mid Majors can Shuffle along for scraps on Spectrum 1. Forcing conferences 7 – 16 to play more games against “nobody’s in conferences 16-32, unless invited “up” to play an occasional game against a high major usually on unfavorable terms. While I like your idea, I think it would only accelerate and bring to light the power conferences moving to becoming a super (semi-pro) league brought to you by ESPN, Fox sports, beer, and pharmaceutical companies everywhere.

    It is all about which path offers more $.

  7. Flyer

    December 4, 2019 at 12:43 PM

    I feel like for this to be a fully hashed out idea you need to cover how this impacts $. Since that would ultimately determine a change like this ever happening.

    • Sully

      December 5, 2019 at 10:33 AM

      While you are correct, the plan is not economically feasible. Just take it at face value as something fun and written in the place of a recap about Houston Baptist.

  8. Alle2

    December 4, 2019 at 2:44 PM

    Sully, really like your stuff over all but…….. this is a bullshit proposal and not well thought out. The world and the world of the NCAA and TV is about money. As bad as the NCAA is the Marketing and evolvement of March Madness makes it the greatest month and revenue generator in College athletics. The Madness is the small school…sister Jean and the 80 million who fill out brackets most of which have no idea who Zion Williamson is. The Tourney generated 950 million last year which is over 80% of the revenue generated by the NCAA. It’s a 4 week feast for advertising earning 1.3 billion vs 468 mill by the College football playoffs. It stands second only to the Super Bowl. The schools that get in are well paid and the remainder gets distributed to the conferences who then pay there members . The answer will be more schools and more money. Madison ave wants Cinderella and then the Big boys with the Big names the final weekend. As Big as College football is that one month in March dwarfs its financially in favor of CBB. So when people say the regular CBB season doesn’t matter or no one is watching the regular season…Sully they don’t care…it doesn’t matter!! Football leads to The Madness which with the Joe Lunardi of the world now starts in Feb with the BUBBLE!!! Genius… any way, thanks for spending the time and Go Flyers!!

  9. Alle2

    December 4, 2019 at 2:58 PM

    Sully, really like your stuff but this proposal is bullshit and just a an error in judgement. So they are going to add more teams!!! It’s about Money!!!! For all the Bad and they are for the most part fools but when it comes to making money March Madness is the Cash Cow!!!! Here are the numbers. The Madness made 950 mill last year!! That’s over 80% of the NCAA total rev for the year INCLUDING football. It’s was a feast for advertisers generating 1.3 billion vs 468 mill for the CFP. There was over 9 billion spent gambling and most of the people who filled out the brackets didn’t know who Zion Williamson was. The schools that get In make huge cash and the remainder goes to the conferences who then send to there member schools… Money for all!!! The advertisers Want Cinderella and then the Big boys the final weekend . The NCAA and the networks don’t care about the regular season, football leads them to March which they have now brilliantly extended with the Joe Lunardi of the world talking about the Bubble in Feb!!!! It’s now Two months long! Over 80 million brackets were filled out. With all the Bull about football that March Month makes CBB King. It’s the NCAA s best product and the small schools are a big part of the show.

    • Sully

      December 5, 2019 at 10:32 AM

      No sir, you are bullshit!! Nah but forreal man I appreciate that you took the time to lay this out in 3 separate comments but let’s not err on the side of treating me like I’m an idiot and don’t understand why my plan is not economically feasible. I’m very well aware the Big Ten/ACC, etc would not give up 4 days of games in big cities/big arenas so the mid majors could have a tournament on the same week. It’s a fun hypothetical that I wrote down because it was more fun to consider than writing about UD beating the brakes off Houston Baptist. Just have fun with it.

  10. Alle2

    December 4, 2019 at 3:29 PM

    March Madness is the most profitable product in College sports… it’s generates over 80% of the NCAA revenue including football. They get 1.3 billion from advertisers vs 468 mill for the CFP. They don’t And neither do the networks about the regular season all the money is made in March, it’s incredibly lucrative and all the schools….all of them get a price of the action. The proposal is without merit….80 mill filled out brackets last year most don’t who Zion was…. TV and Madison ave want Cinderella and then the Big Boys the last weekend. You will see more schools vs less and Football will soon follow …all about the Money.

    • Ghost of Yogi

      December 4, 2019 at 5:45 PM

      It’s Deja vu all over again!

  11. Schaden Freude

    December 5, 2019 at 1:23 PM

    “you will never be able to fill 353 competitive rosters in college basketball” Really? Since you brought this up, lets approach this in reverse. Instead of having high school seniors sign letters of intent, lets hold 5 national combines (all paid for by the NCAA) at the end of the year – 10 states per combine. Coaches will evaluate as many players as they want, who show up. After that, the NCAA will hold a national draft. Draft order is based on your previous years KenPom ranking. Players will play for the the team that drafts them. On a yearly basis, teams will only be drafting 2-3-4 players, so this won’t take too long. After the draft, coaches have 1-2 days to trade players (current draft players only, not current roster players). Don,t like who drafted you – you can sit out until next year (or play for Lavar Ball). Want to go to a specific school for a specific degree? No problem, enroll as a paid student and walk on to the team. I think we will quickly find out who the best coaches are. Final question – who does more day drinking, you or me?????

    • Blackburn Review©®™

      December 5, 2019 at 5:59 PM

      I think you do more day drinking.

      • Schaden Freude

        December 6, 2019 at 10:58 AM

        Give that man a cigar!

  12. random

    December 7, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    64 is the perfect, perfect, number for March Madness. Three weekends. Fits perfectly on bracket sheets, which is precisely what interests the casual fans…not the plucky mid-majors that win a couple of games to squeak into the Sweet Sixteen. Everybody claims to root for the underdog, but when the rubber meets the road, the ratings for David vs Goliath are lower than they are for Goliath vs Goliath. The only thing that drives the casual viewer to the tv is the slim hope that UNC Greensboro can upset Syracuse so they can claim to have correctly picked 9/16 Thursday games and get “I picked that” cred at the water cooler.

    (Yes, going from 68 to 64 would cost good old U of D its place in the spotlight. I’m not advocating here for what’s best for the Gem City.)

    The simple reality, as Sully wisely pointed out, is that Division 1 is too damn big.


    • random

      December 7, 2019 at 8:49 AM

      The perfect scenario would be to reduce D1 significantly. How far depends on your goal. If you want to increase interest in the regular season, the number should be about 256. If you’re focusing on March Madness solely and leaving the regular season to the diehards, you could even go as small as 128.

      But that’s not politically expedient and you’d probably have a hard time convincing/bribing 100 or more D1 schools to drop down to 1AA, many of whom have only recently made the climb to D1.

      If you work under the assumption that D1 is stuck at 353 (and climbing,) there is no solution other than to expand the tournament field. But I want to do it differently than just walking out of Selection Sunday with a 72, 80, or 96-team bracket.


      • random

        December 7, 2019 at 9:20 AM

        I propose the following.

        At the end of this season, the tournament committee informs the bottom 16 conferences in the RPI (or NET, or whatever) that their conferences’ tournaments need to end no later than the Sunday BEFORE Selection Sunday and to schedule accordingly.

        On Mini Selection Sunday, those 16 conference winners are seeded into brackets to play down to 4 teams. These games happen while the big boy conferences are holding their conference tournaments. These games are official NCAA tournament games. They can be sent to Dayton and Sioux City, eight teams each. Two games at each location on Wednesday and Thursday, two games at each location on Saturday. Each location produces two winners to be sent to the field of 64.

        On Selection Sunday, those four winners are re-seeded (i.e. not necessarily 16 seeds) into the Big Dance, along with 16 big conference auto-bids, and 44 at-large bids (up from the current 36) for a Field of 64.

        The money wouldn’t change much. Award one tournament share to each school that qualifies for the mini-16, a second for the four that advance to the field of 64 (everybody in the 64 is getting one anyway), and then more if they win round of 64 games or beyond. The number of shares awarded would go from the current 128 to 140).

  13. BW

    December 10, 2019 at 11:10 AM

    love the idea.. i just dont see CBS leaving dollars on the table.. they still have the NIT and turn that into a profit puppy for gawd sake

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