Kansas City, Mo. — Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has plenty of support from Big 12 coaches for expanding the NCAA Tournament.
Boeheim, a longtime proponent of including more teams in the field, was flabbergasted Sunday when the Orange were snubbed by the selection committee. That brought another round of calls from coaches on Monday to expand the tournament to at least 68 teams, if not more.
"If the field is designed to get the best 64 teams in - if that was the design - then from that standpoint you'd think it needs to be modified," said Kansas University coach Bill Self, figuring a handful of automatic bids go each year to teams that otherwise would not make the cut.
Expanding the tournament has become a hot-button conversation piece that regularly bridges the gap between selection Sunday and the start of the NCAA Tournament Thursday. It's the rallying cry of every fan whose team was passed over and every coach whose job security is measured by postseason appearances.
The last major tournament expansion came in 1985, which increased the field from 53 to 64 teams. The NCAA added a play-in game in 2001, when the number of automatic bids increased from 30 to 31.
Meanwhile, the posts on the dance floor have become harder to earn.
Since 1985, the number of Division I programs has ballooned from 282 to 336. The swell has been most pronounced since 1993, when a reduction in the number of scholarships a program can award from 15 to 13 spread talent among more teams and created more parity than ever.
Self said the number of mid-majors that reached the NCAA Tournament last season demonstrated how level the playing field has become.
Those berths came at the expense of conferences such as the ACC and Big 12, which had the same number of participants as the Missouri Valley.
"There's just so many good teams these days, and so many good players," said Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie. "I don't know the perfect number, but I definitely think we should expand."