Commentary

New NCAA tourney format seems fair

Updated: July 13, 2010, 10:50 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

NCAA LogoBob Donnan/US PresswireIn its new 68-team format, the NCAA went with a mixture of at-large and automatic qualifiers.

The NCAA has made its decision, and the field of 68 at the Big Dance will be set up in a fair way.

The first round will now include eight teams playing to advance to the second round. The NCAA used to have one play-in game with the 65-team format.

Next March, we will have a pair of first round games that will pit teams seeded 65 through 68 and the winners will move on to play a No. 1 seed. These initial games will likely involve small schools (none of the 15 or 16 seeds in last season's tournament were from a BCS conference) and will set up the second round for some David vs. Goliath action.

I really like the idea of the other two first round games including the last four at-large teams selected. That means that schools from the major conferences could play their way into the second round. These teams will be seeded where they would normally be placed in the bracket, meaning a first-round game between two No. 10 seeds would result in the winner advancing to play a No. 7 seed. I'm just happy that we don't have a watered down 96-team field. I think the NCAA did a great job of being fair and creating more interest in the Big Dance.

I have said it many times but I'll say it again ... this is the best three weeks in sports. This move has not dramatically altered things as the field of 68 will remain very special.

I can't wait to tip-off another great season of college hoops, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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