INDIANAPOLIS - If there was any doubt about the NCAA's intention to expand the men's basketball tournament to 96 teams, it went away on Thursday afternoon.
That's not to say anyone gave any straight answers during the NCAA's annual Final Four news conference, which isn't really a news conference but rather a chance for the suits to come in and tell everyone that all is right with their world.
They made sure everyone knew that more "student-athletes" are graduating -- that's counting all 347 Division I programs, many of whom have no chance to compete on the basketball court, but let's not go there. They also reminded everyone that the selection committee (again) did a fabulous job putting together the tournament, even if it insists that everything it does be kept top secret.
But that was all just the warmup act for Greg Shaheen, who is an NCAA vice president but also, far more importantly, the guy steering the expansion ship from inside NCAA headquarters. Shaheen is a bright, capable guy who has done a lot of good things since the late Myles Brand brought him to the NCAA as his right-hand man six years ago.
His assignment Thursday was to explain how the 96-team field will work and then try to convince people that no decisions have been made. "This could all be a discussion about nothing," he said at one point.
Right. And coaches get fired for not graduating enough players.
Here is how the tournament will play out in case you haven't, like the NCAA, been "studying models."
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