NCAA will increase hoops tourney to 68
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The NCAA has decided not to mess around too much with March Madness.
College sports' largest governing body announced a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting yesterday that will begin with an expanded men's basketball tournament next March. But instead of jumping to a 96-team field, a possibility that drew criticism from bracket-obsessed fans to coaches, the NCAA plans to expand by only three teams, from 65 to 68.
Every game will be broadcast live nationally for the first time in the tournament's 73-year history.
"It was a goal from the very, very beginning. I believe it's what our membership wanted, and it's what our fans wanted across the country," NCAA interim president Jim Isch said. "I think without question, it was one of the driving factors in our position and why CBS and Turner make such great partners."
A 96-team field likely would have enveloped the 32-team NIT, the NCAA's other, independently run season-ending tournament.
BCS WILL OPEN UP
The Bowl Championship Series released its formula for determining how conferences, such as the Mountain West, can earn an automatic bid to the big-money bowls.
The BCS disclosed yesterday at its meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., it has three ways to measure conference strength. They are: the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings, the final regular-season computer rankings of all the teams in a conference, and the number of teams in the top 25 in the final BCS standings.
These rankings are compiled over a four-year period and the conferences are measured against each other.
Six conferences — the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac-10 — have automatic bids that are contractually bound through the 2013 season.
Another conference could earn an automatic bid if it hits certain targets in all three categories.
For the first two categories, the goal for leagues such as the MWC or the Western Athletic Conference is to be ranked among the six best conferences in the country.
BOHN LEADS ZURICH
Jason Bohn took advantage of calm morning conditions yesterday in the Zurich Classic at Avondale, La., firing a 7-under 65 for a two-stroke lead over Jason Dufner, John Senden, Jeff Overton, Greg Owen and 2006 champion Chris Couch.
Bohn had eight birdies and one bogey — when he tried to reach the par-5 18th green in two stokes and ended up in the water — at Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana.
"I was playing aggressively on the last hole," Bohn said. "If I had to do it all over again, I'd hit the exact same shot."
Five players — former British Open champion David Duval, Charles Howell III, Kevin Sutherland, 2002 winner K.J. Choi and Troy Merritt — opened with 68s.
Hawai'i's Parker McLachlin, a Punahou and UCLA alum, opened with a 77.