Format decided for 68-team tourney: The 2011 championship will tip off with four first-round games, all broadcast nationally in primetime for the first time.
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Q & A with Division I Men’s Basketball Committee chair: Dan Guerrero spoke to a select group of reporters about the format for the expanded, 68-team championship in 2011. Read the story
Chronology: How the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship bracket has grown over time: Read the story
Looking back: An inside look at how the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1984. Read the story
By Kristen Leigh Porter
Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of Division I men’s basketball and business strategies, spoke to a select group of reporters about Monday’s “First Four” announcement. His responses to select questions are as follows:
Question: What are your thoughts on the expanded field?
Answer: Just a couple of points of reference… The minimum of 34 at-large teams is a legislated requirement in the tournament. There’s some who might say initially, “Why not just stay at 64 or go back to 64?” First of all, I think the membership understood when it chose to expand leading into the 2001 opening round game that you could probably never go back. Secondly, it’s a legislated requirement that the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship have at least 34 at-large teams so that plus the 31 conferences (with automatic bids) makes it 65. That compared to a 64-team symmetrical bracket then gives you an uneven portion of the bracket. That’s why the increase to 68.
Q: What kind of a feel do you expect for this?
A: To help the viewing audience understand the magnitude of what the viewing experience is going to be like, it’s going to have such a dramatic feel on a broader scale starting in 2011…As we divide the games among Turner Broadcasting and CBS Sports…the viewing public will have the opportunity to see the games that over their regular systems that they previously may not have had the chance to choose from and switch between. We obviously met with Turner and CBS several times since the agreement in April. Then Turner and CBS met with the committee as part of the annual meeting and the examination of how to make that First Four an extraordinary experience to get the tournament underway really does set the stage for a new look to how the tournament begins.
Q: How much discussion went into (broadcasting the First Four games on) one of the more mainstream ones where everyone knows where it is on the channel vs. truTV?
A: I think a significant percentage of people know truTV by its former moniker, which was Court TV. It’s a matter of increasing awareness. It’s one of the more highly-rated cable channels and has shown significant growth over the last couple of years. Those are part of our ongoing conversations with Turner and CBS about how to both promote and grow the total platform for the championship. That will be a focal point as we go forward.
Q: How widely is truTV distributed?
A: It’s available in 93 million-plus homes.