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There are reports that the NCAA is going to expand the Men’s Basketball Tournament from 65 to 96 teams. If this deal is true, the NIT just got kicked in the nuts.
If the NIT loses the best 31 teams in their tournament, they might as well put their brand on a high school tournament. High school basketball has risen to the ranks of ESPN prime time coverage of the hottest future pros in the country. There is lots of money to be made in that emerging space.
I’m not sure what the backend politics are, but if I were the NIT I’d ring my attorney to see whether the NCAA move is an anti-trust violation. This is America: when in doubt, sue.
Personally, I don’t care whether the NCAA expands their field of teams. They know they have a built-in, emotional captive audience for each team — so, it’s a brilliant way to monetize school spirit.
In order for the NIT to survive, they may want to bring their grievance before economic high priest Ben Bernanke. In a last ditch effort, the bubble king may thwart the NCAA’s move simply to prevent a further drop in economic productivity near the Ides of March. Like the surprises and upsets on the hardwood, anything is possible in Washington.
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