The NCAA has held early-stage talks about expanding its men's basketball tournament and possibly moving it from broadcast to cable.
"We're just in a due-diligence phase of examining all of our assets, and among those things is men's basketball," NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen said yesterday.
The impetus for the conversations revolves around the NCAA's 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS.
The NCAA can opt out of the final 3 years of the contract after this season. The organization's brass has eyed the opt-out for several years, following the orders of late NCAA president Myles Brand to look at every possibility for all 88 of its championships.
The tournament expanded from 48 teams to 64 in 1985 and expanded to the current 65-team bracket in 2001, when the number of automatic bids was increased from 30 to 31.
The NCAA also has contacted various networks about possibly moving the tournament from broadcast to cable. It already has a contract for 23 of its championships with ESPN.
In games last night:
* At Tampa, Fla., Rick Jackson had 19 points and 11 rebounds, helping No. 7 Syracuse (9-0) beat No. 10 Florida, 85-73, in the SEC/Big East Invitational. Kenny Boynton led the Gators (8-1) with 20 points and seven assists . . . Ravern Johnson scored 14 points as Mississippi State (6-2) beat DePaul, 76-45.
* At Michigan State, Draymond Green had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the No. 12 Spartans (8-2) over Oakland, Mich., 88-57.
* At Cincinnati, Lance Stephenson scored a season-high 17 points as the No. 19 Bearcats (6-1) beat Miami (Ohio), 63-59. *