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Add streaming video in real time across all platforms and you begin to understand why Turner Sports president David Levy recently told Sports Illustrated, “If you were going to customize and build an event for the web or for the new digital technology, you would construct the NCAA basketball tournament.”

He’s right, too. Bigger is better in this case, and not just on the broadcast end of things. There were objections each time the tournament got bigger, and not just about the teams that were left out. When the field expanded to 64 teams, there were 284 schools playing Division I men’s basketball. There are five dozen more than that today.

Expanding the field hasn’t cheapened the accomplishment, diluted the impact of the regular season or diminished the sport’s appeal one iota. That’s because, unlike college football’s rigged version of a postseason, the crucible of college basketball’s tournament always delivers a worthy champion.

So grouse about the selections if you want, but don’t let it linger past Tuesday, when the games begin. Former Duke player Jay Bilas, probably the game’s smartest analyst anywhere, got off the best salvo of the night about the committee, wondering whether there were some members “who don’t know if the ball is round.”

But not too long after that, Bilas turned his gaze toward the bracket. “The tournament, thank god, is idiot-proof.”

Let’s hope so.


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)