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TOURNEY EXPANSION TALK AND AN í85 TITLE REMATCH
February 5, 2010

SCS.comAre you starting to sweat with NCAA Tournament expansion talk heating up? Sorry, but I canít ease your fears. The suits will have their way. So now what?

OPENING THOUGHTS

What a 96-team field would mean

The NCAA Tournament expansion issue isnít that complicated. Proponents of a larger tourney field mostly consist of high-ranking executives looking to increase revenue and stressed head coaches trying to help job security.

The rest of us canít stand the idea of more mediocre bubble teams making the Big Dance. Iíd rather decrease the size of the NCAA Tournament to 48-teams than expand.

However, no matter how much us peons fight, the higher-ups will win. They always do. Weíll see a 96-team field in a few years, weíll all whine and cry about it, and eventually weíll learn to love it.

But that doesnít mean I canít complain about the inevitable. I originally intended to make my own mock 96-team bracket to give the four dedicated readers of this column an idea of how watered down the field would be with an expanded field. Turns out, these guys already took care of my job.

That article was posted on Wednesday afternoon, but itís updated enough to give us a rough idea of whoíd be on the bubble under a 96-team set-up. Itís not pretty.

Imagine a world in which Miami, Boston College, Nevada, Oklahoma and St. Johnís would be fighting for NCAA Tournament berths. The Red Storm are 2-7 in the Big East and just lost to Rutgers by double-digits. Miami is 2-6 in the ACC and has lost four of fiveóbut both teams would still have a chance to make this mock 96-team bracket.

Again, I advise you to mentally prepare yourself for NCAA Tournament expansion. Itís happening. Thereís money involved, and tons of it.

I can only hope that the NCAA follows Joe Lunardiís request from his ESPN.com blog. Lunardi said heíd like to see regular-season champions get an automatic bid under an expanded field. Iíd be all for that idea. Currently, the importance of small conferencesí regular seasons is diminished by the conference tournaments. I love the drama of Championship Week just like everyone else, but itís hard to make the claim that a conference tournament title means more than a regular-season title. Lunardiís proposed change might be the only good thing to come out of an expansion.

WEEKEND PREVIEW

GAME OF THE WEEK

Villanova at Georgetown
Saturday 11 a.m.

Georgetown may be inconsistent, but it has shown up for big home games this season. Saturday should be no different.

Prediction: Georgetown 76, Villanova 71

GAMES TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Iona at Siena
Friday 6 p.m.

Siena owns the nationís second-longest home winning streak and won at Iona by 13 points in December. Itís impressive that Iona is second in a strong MAAC, but the Gaels have no chance.

Prediction: Siena 78, Iona 58

Xavier at Dayton
Saturday 11 a.m.

Xavier won a physical battle with Dayton in January at home, but the roadóespecially on the Flyersí home court-- is a different animal.

Prediction: Dayton 68, Xavier 60

Wake Forest at Virginia
Saturday 11 a.m.

Virginia keeps making me look good, so Iím going to keep predicting wins for the Cavaliers. Of course, once they start losing, Iíll probably just stop predicting their games altogether. Itís safer that way.

Prediction: Virginia 73, Wake Forest 66

Temple at Richmond
Saturday 1 p.m.

Richmondís impressive non-conference wins over Missouri, Old Dominion, Mississippi State and Florida will mean nothing if it canít take care of business in the Atlantic Ten.

Prediction: Richmond 59, Temple 58

Baylor at Texas A&M
Saturday 3 p.m.

The Aggies ended Missouriís 32-game home winning streak on Wednesday and now returns to their own home court, a place they havenít yet lost this year.

Prediction: Texas A&M 71, Baylor 66

Clemson at Virginia Tech
Saturday 3 p.m.

I didnít realize Virginia Tech was 16-4 until Yahoo! Sports informed me three seconds ago. The Hokies still lack quality wins.

Prediction: Clemson 73, Virginia Tech 71

Old Dominion at VCU
Saturday 3 p.m.

VCU could pull to within one game of first place in the CAA with a home win on Saturday.

Prediction: Old Dominion 75, VCU 70

BYU at UNLV
Saturday 3 p.m.

UNLVís NCAA Tournament hopes might come down to the next two home games. First, the Runniní Rebels host BYU, and then New Mexico comes to town.

Prediction: UNLV 72, BYU 71

Michigan State at Illinois
Saturday 8 p.m.

At some point, Illinois needs to beat a legitimate Big Ten opponent. Maybe the College Gameday crew will boost the Illini to a much-needed win.

Prediction: Michigan State 68, Illinois 62

Last weekís prediction record: 7-4
Overall prediction record: 106-60

U.S.A.
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