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NCAA Tournament to add 3 teams, more TV

The NCAA men's basketball tournament will grow from 65 to 68 teams, with all 67 games shown on live national TV, pending expected approval next Thursday from the Division I board of directors.

The fact that CBS and Turner partnered Thursday on a 14-year, $10.8-billion contract to carry the event was no surprise; their bid had been deemed a favorite to beat out ESPN's.

A 96-team field was widely expected. Instead, the NCAA found a way to wring enough revenue from a 68-team event spread across four TV outlets to meet its financial needs.

Critics had feared a bloated 96-team field and a watered-down regular season. The decision not to expand to 96 also preserved the 32-team NIT.

It might be mid summer before the NCAA determines how the 68-team format will be structured. But regardless of when games are played in the early rounds, they will be on CBS or on widely distributed cable channels TBS, TNT and truTV.

Fans might be scrambling to find their teams. If Florida, for example, has a game scheduled on truTV, it won't be on CBS — even in Gainesville.

NCAA interim president Jim Isch said the deal will provide an average of $740 million per year that will returned to conferences and schools.

"I've always thought expansion was good," USF coach Stan Heath said. "I think the possibility of going further (than 68) was very intriguing to me. I think all of us saw the pros and cons (of a 96-team field) and we thought it would work."

USF, which played in the NIT this past season, would have arguably made a 96-team NCAA field. Heath said his biggest reason for supporting a larger expansion was to make sure that all conference regular-season champs made the field.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun liked the tournament the way it was: "I have a tough time seeing why we have to change a concept that has been so good. This year, the parity was incredible. If you have something that has become magical and what has enhanced it is not more games, but the Butlers and the parity."

North Carolina coach Roy Williams was torn on the change: "There are so many good teams, and adding three more helps get some of them in the bracket without tarnishing the specialness of the tournament."

Beginning next year, CBS and Turner will split the region semifinals. CBS will continue to show the region finals and Final Four through 2015, then will split the region finals with Turner every year. Turner will get the Final Four in even-numbered years.

CBS, which has carried the NCAAs since 1982, had a contract through 2013 but was pleased to have the NCAA opt out of the deal and allow it to partner with Turner.

"It's better than nothing," said Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, probably the most vocal advocate for expansion among coaches. "Hopefully down the road there will be a bigger expansion."

Kentucky: Marquis Teague, ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com, verbally committed. The 6-foot-2 point guard, who considered Louisville and Indiana among others, averaged 15.7 points and 4.6 assists for Pike High in Indianapolis.

Football

former plant high qb georgia'S NO. 1, FOR NOW: Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray, a former Plant High standout, has established himself as Georgia's No. 1 quarterback, though coach Mark Richt won't officially name a starter yet. Murray, who has been most consistent through spring, is competing with junior Logan Gray. Murray, 6 feet 1, 206 pounds, would be the first Georgia freshman to start at quarterback in the season opener since David Greene in 2001.

women's gymnastics: Florida was among the Super Six teams advancing to today's NCAA team finals in Gainesville. The others: UCLA, Oklahoma, Utah, Alabama and Stanford. The second-seeded Gators had night session-high scores on the floor exercise (49.275) and vault (49.425)

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

NCAA Tournament to add 3 teams, more TV 04/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010 8:59am]

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