Mods: I wasn't quite sure where to put this, so feel free to move to a different, more appropriate forum.
Joe Lunardi is ESPN's resident "bracketologist" and one of their designated "college basketball experts". He has written a short column on the effect of a conference's expansion on the number of berths it gets in the NCAA Basketball Championship. Here's the link:http://insider.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/blog?name=ncbexperts&id=6564564
Unfortunately, it's behind ESPN's paywall, so I'm assuming that most of you won't be able to read this. Here's a quote from the article to give you a gist:
The point here is not to bash the Big East. Eight bids per year over six seasons and an average of 7.8 bids over 12 years is pretty doggone good no matter how you slice it. The point, more simply, is that bigger ain't always better. In fact, in terms of positioning teams for NCAA tournament consideration, it's almost always worse.
We bring this to light at a time when the Big Ten (12 teams from 11, adding Nebraska) and Pac-12 (12 teams from 10, adding Colorado and Utah) expand simultaneously, and the Big East sits with a 17th team (TCU) on the horizon next year. The drive for football championship games is one thing; the pursuit of NCAA tournament bids is altogether different. As the ACC proved when it abandoned basketball-centric membership in favor of gridiron expansion and the Big East continues to prove in its quest for BCS relevance, there is an opportunity cost with respect to RPI and at-large profiles.
His basic premise is that, as far as getting NCAA bids is concerned, most of the recent conference expansions will not help the expanding conference. He supports this idea with a somewhat detailed look at the change in bids earned by the Big East after its last expansion; he also throws in some brief comments about the impact of expansion on the Atlantic Ten and the WCC.
I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I think that there might actually be some legitimacy to his statements. However, I also think that he has done a pretty mediocre job of backing up his statements. I'll be the first to admit that the ESPN Insider website is not the right place for a dissertation-length examination of this concept, but ESPN does have several writers (especially its baseball writers) who are willing to back up their claims with decent statistical analyses. Would it really have been that hard to add a little more meat to this column?
I'd be interested in hearing what you expansion junkies think about this idea. I'd also be interested in figuring out a way to prove (or disprove) his "thesis".
Regards, Driver 8