KURT VOIGT,AP Sports Writer
The chairman of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee is content with a March Madness field of 68 teams, now and moving forward.
The tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011, opening with four first-round games that have been played in Dayton, Ohio. Chairman Mike Bobinski said he’s perfectly fine with that number of teams and that he personally hasn’t thought about expanding the tournament.
“This is just me speaking at this point in time,” Bobinski said Wednesday on a teleconference. “I would tell you that I feel no compunction at all to think about expanding the tournament.”
Bobinski is in Indianapolis this week with the rest of the committee for its orientation meeting in preparation for selecting this year’s tournament field. The committee’s work this week will conclude with its annual mock selection in front of selected members of the media.
Transparency has been the goal of the committee in recent years, though the topsy-turvy season so far has made which teams deserve the top seeds less transparent than ever. Four of the top five teams in the Top 25, and six of the top 10, lost last week — including No. 1 Indiana.
Despite the loss to Illinois, the Hoosiers held on to the top spot in the poll, becoming the first team in more than a month to do so. That ended a stretch of five consecutive weeks with a new No. 1, two weeks short of the longest such stretch in 1993-94.
Duke, Louisville and Michigan have also held the top spot this season, though the Wolverines lost Tuesday night at rival Michigan State.
Count Bobinski as a fan of the upheaval, even it makes determining the top seeds more difficult for the selection committee.
“To me, it’s been an amazing season to this point,” the Xavier athletic director said. “There have been any number of extraordinary games, upsets, shake-ups in the polls. It seems like the worst thing that can happen to you is you ascend to the top spot because you’re bound to get beaten quickly thereafter.”
Bobinski also said it was too early to determine the tournament viability for No. 25 Kentucky, which lost standout freshman forward Nerlens Noel for the season with a torn ACL during Tuesday night’s loss to Florida.
The defending national champion Wildcats fell to 17-7 with the defeat, and the loss of Noel — who was leading the country in blocked shots — was a serious postseason blow.
“The reality is we have about four-and-a-half weeks of basketball left to be able to watch Kentucky and to see how they perform without him in the lineup now, and that will really tell the story, I think of how we ultimately judge and view Kentucky,” Bobinski said. “It’s way too early to consider them in, out, or in between.”
Bobinski also said Cowboys Stadium, site of a regional for this year’s tournament, will be configured this year just as it will be for next year’s Final Four, in what amounts to a trial run for the site.
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