Every Division One team in the NCAA Tournament? It is gaining momentum for 2021

“This one is for all the small schools that never had a chance.”

Many in Indiana still long for the old high school basketball format.

Single class, every team makes the tournament field, with the finals in downtown Indianapolis.

A single-class tournament that includes every team might be held in 2021, with the finals in Indianapolis, but it won’t be the Indiana high school variety.

Multiple reports emerged on Wednesday morning indicating that there is a push underway to include every Division One team in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.  The 2021 Final Four will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Jeff Goodman of Stadium appears to have been the first to report the movement, which began in the ACC Conference.

“This idea of EVERY team being included in the NCAA tournament this year is spearheaded by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski,” Goodman said in a subsequent tweet, citing sources.

The unanimous ACC vote means several other prominent figures in the league approved the concept, including North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

“This is a unique time and it’s time to do something different,” Boeheim told Goodman.

It appears that the push by the ACC coaches is more than a symbolic gesture.

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported that the concept has already been socialized with the NCAA.

Rothstein also reported that “this is being done to celebrate college basketball.”

It isn’t the old high school tournament that many in Indiana long for — but an all-in NCAA Tournament approach is, if nothing else, a very interesting concept to debate.

Would it cheapen the regular season?  Would it lessen the overall appeal of the event?  Would a potential boost in television revenue from extra games mean that the all-in approach is here to stay?

Would fans even care about a game between No. 1 seed Duke against No. 353 Chicago State?

One approach that could help captivate the fans would be to follow the Indiana high school model, with sectionals involving teams that are geographically close to one another.  That would likely make sense from a “bubble” perspective in the current climate as well.

There would no doubt be substantial interest in a first round “Indianapolis Sectional” that looked like this:

  • Indiana vs. IUPUI
  • Purdue vs. Evansville
  • Butler vs. Indiana State
  • Notre Dame vs. Fort Wayne
  • Ball State vs. Valpo

If you really wanted to juice things up, design this sectional like the high school variety where only one of the Indiana based teams can advance to the regional round.  I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but locally, that would be a wildly popular approach.

One thing is certain.  It would be an anti-climatic way for IU to end its four year NCAA Tournament drought.  The Hoosiers have not played in the event since 2016.

Of course those in the Hoosier state have seen this story before.

And one can only be left to wonder, if the all-in format is approved, where does it lead.

Will there be class based NCAA Tournaments down the road?


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