BYU’s Mark Pope Weighs In On Potential NCAA Tournament Expansion

Oct 24, 2022, 11:45 PM | Updated: 11:48 pm

NCAA Tournament, BYU Basketball, Mark Pope...

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope weighed in on the thought of an expanded NCAA Tournament field. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – It hasn’t drawn many national headlines yet, but the NCAA Tournament could expand beyond 68 teams. Despite the lack of national conversation, there has been a lot of chatter about this possibility within the college basketball community.

The idea of changing the Big Dance brings strong opinions.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said last week at ACC Media Day that it’s time to look at expanding the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments. Likewise, Baylor coach Scott Drew told ESPN he’d like to see the Big Dance expanded to 128 teams.

Soon, BYU basketball coach Mark Pope and his program will be in the same league as Drew in the Big 12 Conference. But, even though BYU will join the toughest basketball league in America, the expectations at BYU will remain high for Pope.

Those expectations will continue to include the hopes of earning NCAA Tournament bids. Building on the 30 NCAA Tournament bids BYU has earned dating back to 1950.

Pope knows the magic of March firsthand from his days as a National Champion big man on Rick Pitino’s loaded Kentucky squad in 1996. He’s also guided BYU to an NCAA Tournament bid in 2021 and 2020 if COVID-19 didn’t take it away from everyone.

So what does Pope think of the possibilities of an expanded March Madness field?

Mark Pope isn’t opposed to an expanded NCAA Tournament

“I don’t know. But I will tell you this; it seems to me in our history of expansion, we always think that there’s always this pull to keep it the same. And you think, ‘oh, expansion is going to ruin the product, it’s going to hurt the league, it’s going to be a financial drain, it’s going to dilute everything,’ and it seems like that never actually happens,” Pope said to KSL Sports.

Pope continued, “It’s kind of like the stock market. Like, the stock market is going to have some dips and turns, but you know what? Every year there’s no way the stock market can go higher, and then you know what, five years later, you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, the stock market is a lot higher.’ So I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I don’t really have a say in it. But I’m not scared of it growing because I think when we grow things, things improve.”

Big 12 will give BYU a margin for error to reach March Madness

Having the NCAA Tournament jump to 128 teams would probably be good for Pope and BYU. Being in the Big 12, BYU will play 18 conference games in the first two years, while Texas and Oklahoma remain in the league. Most of those league games will end up as “Quad 1” games. The NCAA Selection Committee loves to see that tier of games when sizing up resumes to place a potential at-large team into the field.

An expanded 128-team or even 90-team field would expand that margin for error for BYU to find its way into the dance. We’ve seen that already with the 68-team field. Big 12 teams with losing conference records can still get into the Big Dance. Last year, Iowa State finished 7-11 in the Big 12 but still earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs and advanced to the Sweet 16. Same with Oklahoma in 2018 and 2019.

Expanding the field beyond 68 teams would benefit BYU’s odds of cracking into the dance, and it sounds like Pope isn’t afraid of the field growing in the future.

BYU basketball begins its quest for a potential NCAA Tournament bid in the 2022-23 season with a home opener on November 7 against Idaho State.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars


Brian Preece

Locals In MLB: Oliver Dunn Demoted, One Utahn Stands At MLB’s Highest Level

The Milwaukee Brewers have pulled the plug on the Oliver Dunn experiment, sending Dunn down after he struck out ten times in 24 May at-bats. 

2 days ago

BYU Football, 2024 Road Trips, Puka Nacua...

Mitch Harper

Ultimate BYU Football Trips For Fans During 2024 College, NFL Season

These football weekends are must-see for BYU football fans in 2024.

4 days ago

weber state basketball dillon jones...

Ben Anderson

Jaxson Robinson, Dillon Jones Wrap Up Combine Scrimmages

BYU wing Jaxson Robinson and Weber State forward Dillon Jones wrapped up scrimmage play at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday.

4 days ago

BYU Women's Basketball, 2024-25 Roster, Amari Whiting...

Mitch Harper

Early Look At BYU Women’s Basketball Roster For 2024-25 Season

Year two for BYU women's basketball in the Big 12 Conference.

4 days ago

BYU Football, Greatest Players, All-Time...

Mitch Harper

BYU Football’s 100 Greatest Players Of All-Time: Nos. 26-50

Installment number three of the greatest players in BYU football history countdown.

4 days ago

Kevin Young, BYU Basketball, Adrian Wojnarowski...

Mitch Harper

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Shared His Thoughts On BYU Landing Kevin Young

ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski shared thoughts during the NBA Draft Combine on BYU's new head coach Kevin Young.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

BYU’s Mark Pope Weighs In On Potential NCAA Tournament Expansion