Tourney Expansion Would Increase Online Gambling Options

December 16th, 2021 Online Gambling

Online gambling next season is likely to include 96 teams for the NCAA basketball tournament. Much of the talk this past weekend at Internet gambling companies was on the proposed expansion of the NCAA Tournament. March Madness is wildly popular and expanding from 65 to 96 teams would just increase the options.

Online gambling odds get so much attention during the NCAA Tournament, even from people who don’t normally wager on sports.  With the expansion to 96 teams the Internet gambling companies could get more action. Nothing has been made official but NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen announced a plan for the 96-team tournament including the scheduling.  Expansion has been discussed in the past with the bracket going from 65 to 68 or even 80 teams but the 96 teams is the plan that has become popular.  The 96-team tournament would still be played within the same time period.

The current plan has 64 teams playing in the first round with 32 teams getting a first round bye. “We needed to make sure that we did everything possible to use the due diligence window to understand ourselves and understand what the future would hold,” Shaheen said. “So that’s what we’re doing, that’s the process we’re undertaking. We’ve been handling it every day for the last several months and years, as we studied for the benefit of the organization.”

The last time the NCAA Tournament expanded was in 2001 when it added just a single team, going from 64 to 65 teams.  That was not true expansion though since it was just the addition of a play-in game.  The last time the tourney really expanded was in 1985 when it went to 64 teams on the online gambling board.

If you are looking at online gambling and planning for the NCAA Tournament next year there really isn’t anything that changes except the number of games played.  Instead of a play-in game there would be 32 first round games.  There would still be the normal Thursday and Friday games with those 32 games with the winners playing the top eight seeds in each region on Saturday and Sunday. Those winners would probably play early in the next online gambling week and then proceed to the regionals as normal.

The expansion of the tournament is all about money.  CBS and the NCAA signed an 11-year deal in 1999 that expires this year.  The NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events in the world and television networks will be bidding billions of dollars to get the rights to broadcast the game and adding 32 more teams doesn’t hurt.


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