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NCAA Basketball News: Kunkel Decides on Xavier

Highly sought after Belmont transfer Adam Kunkel has decided to transfer to Xavier. The Musketeers were competing with Arkansas, Oklahoma and Creighton for his services. 

Kunkel is a sit one – play two transfer. The sophomore guard averaged 16.5 points per game and 2.5 assists a season ago. 

Xavier was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation last year. Kunkel should immediately help the Musketeers efficiency from behind the arc. 

Will NCAA Basketball Go to a Conference-Only Season?

College football looks like it will be a conference only season if there is indeed games this fall. Rick Pitino was the first to suggest that basketball do the same starting in January. 

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If teams waited until after Christmas break to begin games, what would the season look like? This plan would still allow teams to play 16-24 games, depending on the conference. 

The biggest problem I see with the late start is the lack of opportunity for the mid-majors to compare themselves against the big conference teams. It would also give the tournament committee very little chance to compare teams across conferences. 

A team could win a Big Ten title, but you would have a hard time deciding who would be better between the ACC and Big Ten champs. Who would be more deserving of the number one seed?

Expanded Tournament Field Options

If the NCAA does go with the conference only approach, I think you have to have an expanded NCAA field or play-in games between conference runners up. Metrics would help us compare teams across conferences, but it would be hard to reach an actual value for every school.

My suggestion would be that every conference gets two teams in. This approach would give you 64 teams. Yes, I understand that giving SWAC, Big South, or MEAC multiple tournament entrants would be problematic, but it is the only fair way to do it. 

There would also be 32 at large teams to round out my proposed 96 team field. The top 32 teams based on tournament committee discretion would receive a bye.

The other 64 teams would play for the last 32 spots giving you the traditional 64 team field. The conference champion in the regular season and the conference tournament champion from each conference would make the field. If it is the same team, whoever was the regular-season runner-up would qualify. 

The MEAC runner-up, who would most likely be your 96th ranked team, would play whoever the committee has as the 33rd seed. The winner of that game would become the 9-seed in one of the regions, and so forth. 

Expanded Field Benefits

This expanded field would create an exciting new format in a season that is not going to be normal anyway. It created more tournament games, which adds value for the NCAA and the smaller conferences who now get a little more exposure. Also, for the first time, many conferences would see two teams in the NCAA field. 

Imagine an Indiana vs. Norfolk State game to decide a nine seed. You would also have much stronger 16-seeds as the play-in match up for the 2020 season would have been a Vermont vs. Rhode Island type meeting. The matchups for my proposed 33-96 seeds would have had very few games that would have had point spreads greater than 8 points.

This idea is not traditional and I don’t think you should keep the format long term. It would be a new way to make up for some of the early season comparison games that bubble teams rely on. At this point, I do not care how you set it up. I only want some March Madness in 2021.

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