Viewership in March Madness has skyrocketed in the past few years. Players like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Zach Edey, and even programs like UConn led by Dan Hurley have helped in this uptick. So, a logical move by Charlie Baker, Dan Gavitt, and Lynn Holzman of the NCAA would be a March Madness expansion to an even larger number.

Big plans from the NCAA

Mar 30, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general overall view as Clemson Tigers guard Chase Hunter (1) dribbles dribbles the ball against Alabama Crimson Tide guard Aaron Estrada (55) on the NCAA March Madness Sweet 16 and Elite Eight logo at midcourt in the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA is willing to expand March Madness such that more teams get included, per Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports. They are either considering an addition of four or eight teams down the line. This would expand the competition to 72 and 76 squads for the greatest prize in all of college basketball, the National Championship. Charlie Baker and the commissioners have still not reached an agreement. But, it was presented by Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's senior vice president for basketball, and Lynn Holzman, the vice president for women's basketball.

This March Madness expansion could come as early as the 2025-26 season. But, it does not mean that the revenue for the tournament nor the NCAA has increased also. CBS and Turner, the current rights holders, are not required to increase their investment if this move does happen. However, the possibility of the contract getting larger is never zero.

The next step is for Charlie Baker and the NCAA to analyze whether or not this would be a strategic move. They will be conducting the examinations in the summer and fall to outline the actionable plans that they could carry out to make March Madness' expansion a reality. Meetings are also likely to start as soon as the next week of this presentation. The NCAA basketball oversight committee will immediately conduct its meetings after this plan is presented. Meanwhile, the NCAA basketball selection committee is going to have theirs in the coming month.

March Madness is one of the biggest revenue earners for the NCAA. It gets approximately $700 million per year from CBS and Turner. That very hefty contract is going to last up until 2032. So, they must take careful steps in altering the biggest college basketball tournament and one of the biggest sporting events in the country.

What does an expanded March Madness look like?

The first thing to note is that automatic qualifiers from the 28 smaller conferences will not be touched. This means that only the number of at-large selections is going to expand due to this move. An additional First Four site in the Western time zone is likely going to be added because of this.

The change will likely include play-in games. So, the 64 teams ranked higher that have secured a spot in March Madness are not that affected. Squads that are ranked from 10th to 12th need to win a play-in game. This is so that they can advance to the first round due to this expansion. A big issue that Charlie Baker's NCAA will have to deal with is having to relegate smaller conference automatic qualifiers to these play-in games.

A lot of movement is going to go on in the NCAA in the coming months. Will it all be realized come the 2025 season?