The performance by the Big East and Big Ten in the NCAA tournament has been underwhelming to say the least.
The two conferences combined to earn 16 of the 37 at-large teams in the field. Of those 16 at-large teams, none remain in the Elite 8. (The only team from the Big East or Big Ten remaining is UCONN who won the Big East Auto Bid.) Meanwhile we have teams that some felt didn't belong in the field (VCU) and from one of the "weaker" Big 6 conferences (Arizona) who received at-large bids that are still alive and kicking.
Of the record 5 teams that received at-large bids with 14 losses; 3 of them came from the Big East and Big Ten. Marquette equitted itself well, winning two games to get to the Sweet 16, but Penn State and Michigan State fell flat in their opening games.
What am I trying to say with all of this? Maybe, the so called "best" conferences aren't really any better than any others. While I didn't believe any of the 16 at-large teams from the Big East and Big Ten where unworthy of getting in, it doesn't appear to be good for the Tournament to have so many teams in from a particular conference taking up a large portion of the at-large bids.
I would have loved to see what Colorado, Alabama, St. Mary's or Harvard could've done in the Tournament. What should be done then to give more access to the tournament to teams from more conferences? Do we need a cap on the number of teams from a particular conference? I don't think that's the solution, the Committee is supposed to look at individual teams and not what conference they are from; a cap would defeat that line of thinking.
I propose that we expand the Tournament to 72 teams, creating four additional 1st Round games. This would make the last 12 at-large teams who get into the field play in the 1st round instead of the last 4. These 12 teams would be the current 4 that are in the "First Four", the additional four at-large teams that would be included and the last four teams that received byes this year. The bubble was so weak this year I don't think anyone can argue that the last four teams that received byes were that deserving of receiving one.
This year you could've had, in addition to the "First Four" games that we had, Missouri vs. Alabama, Marquette vs. St. Mary's, Penn St. vs. Colorado and Michigan St. vs. Harvard; those would've been exciting games to watch and would've allowed for additional games throughout the day on Tuesday and Wednesday just like we do on Thursday and Friday of opening weekend. (Imagine all the reduced office productivity, haha!)