So this thread (http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/96-team-tournament-and-michigan) got me thinking about something. A 96 team tourney is a crackpot idea that is full of suck. Everybody knows that. But is there any good in it at all?
In my opinion, there is one idea we can take from the 96-team tourney idea: I really like that the top half of each region would have a bye. I think this could be applied to good effect if the tournament is trimmed, rather than expanded. Going to a 48 team tourney would, in fact, be the greatest idea ever in the history of mankind. Sorry for the lack of nice bolding, bulleting and pictures: Computers confuse my simple mind.
Take the following situation. There are about 5 games left in the regular season, plus the conference tourney. Your team is safely in the tourney, looking at a 4 or 5 seed.
Under the current system:
You play pretty well for the remainder of the season and get the 4 seed. You play a 13 seed in the first round of 64. On the other hand, you slip a bit and end up with a 5 seed. You now have to play a 12 seed. Yes, they might be slightly better (certainly there are more upsets in 5-12 games than 4-13 games) but the vast majority of the time, you really aren't worried about the competition until round 2 in both cases.
Under a 48 team system:
You play well and get the 4 seed. You are in the round of 32 and wait for the winner of the 5-12 game. For that game you are well rested. If you slip, and get the 5 seed you are playing the 12 seed in the first round for the opportunity to play a fresh 4 seed in the round of 32. The difference here is a much bigger deal, IME.
Essentially, by rewarding the top half of each region you create a second (albeit less important) bubble. The first bubble is still to get in the tourney. But the 2nd bubble would be to get that coveted top 4 seed. This doubles the number of teams playing for something important at the end of the season.
Okay, this got way longer than I intended. Just thinking outloud on my keyboard.