SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey Suggests ‘Fresh Look’ And Potential Changes To The NCAA Tournament

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For basketball fans across the country the month of March can only mean one thing: March Madness. The NCAA Basketball Division I tournament is a month where anything and everything can happen. Aside from a change in field size, the tournament hasn’t seen much change in decades.

But now SEC commissioner Greg Sankey feels it might just be time for a “fresh look.”

Sankey Suggests Adding Teams To NCAA Tournaments

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde reported on Friday morning that Sankey could look to expand the 68-team field.

Sankey cautions that he is “not ready to make headlines there yet.” But he also is open to conversations about a Big Dance that doesn’t exclude small-conference champions while potentially including more teams.

As an example, he mentions the 2022 College World Series baseball championship, which was won by SEC member Mississippi—the last team into the 64-team field.

“If the last team in can win the national championship, and they’re in the 30s or 40s from an RPI or [NCAA] NET standpoint, is our current approach supporting national championship competition?” Sankey asks. “I think there’s health in that conversation. That doesn’t exclude people. It goes to: How do we include people in these annual national celebrations that lead to a national champion?”

The SEC is 10 years removed from its last basketball championship when John Calipari and Kentucky won it all in 2012. After SEC side Texas A&M narrowly missed out on the 2022 tourney, Sankey says maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at the field size.

“Look at what UCLA did as an 11-seed [in 2021], what Virginia Commonwealth did as an 11-seed [in 2011], what Syracuse did as an 11-seed [in 2018]. Those are three teams that played [in the First Four] in Dayton and went to the Final Four eventually. It should broaden our thinking.”

Forde does note, however, that Syracuse made the Final Four in 2016 as a 10-seed that was not among the First Four in Dayton. The 2018 Syracuse team reached the Sweet 16 as a First Four team.

Sankey did not offer whether the changes would apply to the women as well as the men. But any changes are sure to have people questioning whether we’re fixing something that isn’t currently broken.