How Many Teams Deserve to Play in March?

Earlier this week, KUGrad laid out his persuasive argument against the expansion of the NCAA Tournament.  Because I started looking up records last week, I'm going to share my side today.  Expansion supporters often claim it will do two great things for college basketball.  First, it will reward more teams and second, expansion would create better competition in the tournament.  Yes, it will reward more teams.  No, there won't be better competition.  Those questions are easy to answer.  My question is have those teams earned a reward?


In an attempt to see how many teams might have earned a reward this year, I gathered information for the Top 100 teams according to Realtime RPI as of February 25.  I counted their wins against the top 75 RPI teams according to CBS Sports.  If we're talking about earning an invite to the tournament, wins against teams outside the top 75 don't earn credit with me.  Now, when thinking of tournament teams, I always instinctively look at the top 65 teams.  However with 31 automatic bids, it's not quite that easy. We have to take out the automatic qualifiers.  So, I removed the projected automatic qualifiers according to SBNation's Bracketology.  The remaining teams are broken into two categories, locks and leftovers.  

First up, the locks:

Realtime RPI   vs 1-25 vs 26-50 vs 51-75
4 Syracuse 4 3 7
5 West Virginia 2 2 6
6 Kansas St. 4 2 1
7 Purdue 4 2 2
9 Georgetown 5 2 2
11 Pittsburgh 3 3 4
12 Baylor 3 2 2
13 Temple 2 5 1
14 Xavier 0 4 3
15 Vanderbilt 2 3 2
17 Wisconsin 2 3 2
18 Texas A&M 1 2 2
19 Brigham Young 0 4 3
20 Tennessee 1 1 3
21 Wake Forest 2 3 0
22 Texas 2 3 2
27 Michigan St. 1 1 2
28 Rhode Island 0 2 1
29 Maryland 0 4 0
30 Ohio St. 3 2 1
31 Oklahoma St. 3 0 1


No real reason those teams are locks, they're just the top 20 teams after the projected automatic bids were taken out.  A total of 51 teams are in the tournament at this point.  Things should start getting interesting here as teams show similar profiles.  Making a switch to graphs for the remaining teams because they show what I'm after in a clear manner.  First up, the next 14 teams.  That will put us at 65 teams total.


Some of these teams are locks as well, but the quality of the wins is starting to stretch for a few.  Kent State with one win against a Top 75 team, San Diego State has two wins, while Virginia Tech and Clemson only have three wins against Top 75 competition.  But, we've got our 65 teams covered.  How do the next 15 teams look?

A few of these teams can make a case to be included in the tournament or on the bubble.  Most can't.  Eight of these fifteen teams don't even have four wins against Top 75 teams.  Yet, if the tournament was expanded to 96 teams it would be almost a guarantee that all of these teams would be included in the field.  The really sad part about expanding the field?  There would be room for 15 MORE teams after the ones I've listed.  Expand the tournament by adding three more teams.  Three more teams can justify being admitted to the tournament every year.  30 more teams?  Not even close.

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