(CBS Sports) - The ACC is drafting a proposal in which every Division I college basketball team would automatically qualify for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, a source told CBS Sports.
The idea, if ratified, would transform the regular 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket into a mega-March Madness tournament with close to 350 teams vying for an NCAA championship.
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reports that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the one spearheading the proposal from the ACC, with the league’s coaches in lockstep with him via unanimous approval as a way to shake up the sport in a unique and unprecedented way.
“In the Atlantic Coast Conference, we believe in the importance of celebrating our game,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. "There is no better way to do that than involving every team in the most prestigious basketball tournament on the planet.
“This is not a regular season. It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”
CBS Sports' Matt Norlander reports that the NCAA’s preference, however, is still to have a 68-team NCAA Tournament field in mid-March as usual in 2021, despite the ACC’s wishes.
“The safety of our players is paramount,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said in a statement backing the plan. “The ability to incentivize the regular season without mandating a select number of non-conference and conference games provides options and flexibility for all member institutions. As ACC head coaches, we strongly believe it’s in the game’s best interest to have an all-inclusive 2021 NCAA Tournament.”
Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes also weighed in with a statement backing the plan, saying, “This is what’s best for our student-athletes, fans and the sport of college basketball.
It will incentivize everyone that loves and cares about our great sport during these unprecedented times, and it will provide a safe environment for all to participate in.”