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Collegiate men’s basketball: ARRRGH!

The National Collegiate Athletic Association continues to have serious problems in the way it manages sporting competitions in four year colleges in the United States. One of these problems is the men’s basketball competitions, which bring in massive amounts of money for the organisation.

You’re asking us why that is a problem.

Yes, we can hear you. Turn off your computer’s microphone. We don’t want to hear you singing along to Rihanna’s “S&M” any more. It does not paint an attractive picture.

Anyway, it is a problem because the NCAA is meant to be a nonprofit organisation [ie, an organisation that does not make a profit]. Therefore, the NCAA pays too much heed to the schools that have good American football and men’s basketball programmes, which means that it does not do its real job: preparing students for the real world by allowing them to compete in a friendly environment with little pressure.

Thankfully, the GoobNet Agency for Reintroducing Relegation to Recreational Game Hierarchies is here to help. We have already rearranged collegiate American football teams into a structure that allows schools to compete with other schools in their geographic region that are at or near their own competitive level, whilst simultaneously providing for teams that excel to move into higher levels in place of teams that may be underperforming. Now, we do the same for collegiate men’s basketball teams.

Men’s basketball at full four year colleges is played at five distinct levels. The upper three are overseen by the NCAA and are currently called Divisions I, II, and III. These divisions currently contain a total of 1,054 teams [344 in DI, 299 in DII, 411 in DIII]. Ranking below this, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics also has Divisions I and II, containing a total of 247 teams [114 in DI, 133 in DII]. Each of these five levels is further subdivided into a number of regional conferences.


Under the GoobNet Agency for Reintroducing Relegation to Recreational Game Hierarchies’ plan, next season is a transitional year. The current rules remain, and at the end of the season, the 1,301 men’s basketball teams throughout the NCAA and NAIA are rearranged into five divisions.

The First Division is formed from the 256 highest ranked members of the current NCAA DI. The remaining DI teams, plus the top 168 teams in DII, form the Second Division. We then create the Third Division from the bottom 131 teams in DII and the top 125 teams in DIII. Of the DIII teams that are left over, the highest ranked 256 become the charter members of the Fourth Division.

This leaves us 30 more teams in DIII, plus the 247 in the NAIA. We put them all together to create the starting membership of the Fifth Division.


The 2013-4 season is therefore comprised of four divisions of 256 teams each, and a Fifth Division of 277 teams. We then subdivide the first four divisions into sixteen conferences of sixteen teams each, taking geographic and sporting considerations into account. Each conference is further split into two sections of eight teams each. The Fifth Division is also divided into 32 total sections; owing to the greater number of teams, 21 of these sections will contain nine teams instead of eight.

The conferences are all linked to their best geographic fit in the division above and the division below, such that the nation is divided into 16 regions. For instance, one region could contain the First Division Big Sky Conference, the Second Division Great Northwest Conference, and the Third Division Upper Midwest Conference.

Each team plays a season of thirty two games. The first ten games are against other teams in the same division, but outside the conference. These games may be scheduled by mutual consent of the teams involved. The myriad “preseason tournaments” that currently clutter the November schedule, such as the Las Vegas Invitational and the Great Alaska Shootout, are eliminated, though multiple teams may still choose to play November games in a single location, thereby forming the equivalent of a preseason tournament.

The remaining 22 games are conference games: each team plays its opponents in the same section twice [once home, once away] and opponents in the other section once [four home, four away]. Fifth Division teams will play more conference games, owing to the larger conferences, but they will play fewer nonconference games to keep to a 32 game schedule.

At the end of the season, the team in each section that finishes with the best record in conference games is that section’s champion. In the First Division, the section winners qualify automatically for the championship tournament, and they also play one another in a conference championship game. The next four teams in each conference, irrespective of section, play each other once in a round robin competition; the top two teams qualify for the championship tournament. The conference championship and round robin qualifying games take the place of the current conference tournaments.

As a result of the above, we automatically have 64 teams for the First Division championship tournament. They are seeded in such a way that each of the four regional brackets contains one team from each conference. The tournament then proceeds much as the present NCAA DI championship tournament, with the added benefit that we have finally eliminated those annoying “play in” games.

Meanwhile in the Second through Fifth Divisions, four teams in each conference have the opportunity to earn promotion. The top team in each section, plus the next two teams in each conference [irrespective of section], compete in promotion playoffs against teams from the division above in their region’s conference. The team that finished first overall in the lower conference plays the team that finished last overall in the higher conference. The other section winner plays the team that finished last in the other section in the higher conference. The highest team in the lower conference that did not win the section plays the lowest team in the higher conference that did not take its section’s wooden spoon, and the second highest in the lower conference plays the second lowest in the higher conference. The teams that are trying to earn promotion are awarded home advantage in these promotion playoff games.

Teams that are not eligible for any of the playoff games may choose to accept invitations to other tournaments, such as the National Invitation Tournament, the College Insider Tournament, or our very own GoobNet Silly Tournament.


As teams are promoted and relegated between the divisions, teams may be moved between conferences or sections as necessary, taking geographic and sporting considerations into account. Each division may also decide to set conditions on entry relating to student performance, facility size and quality, and other off court factors. If a team does not meet the conditions of the division to which it is trying to earn promotion, that promotion playoff is cancelled.

As schools add or remove men’s basketball programmes, the divisions adjust accordingly. New programmes enter in the Fifth Division. If a programme ends, that conference fills the empty slot by promoting the best team in the linked conference in the next lower division that was not promoted. Thus, the first four divisions always contain 256 teams each, and the Fifth Division grows or shrinks as necessary.

Should the Fifth Division expand beyond 320 teams, each section is split into two subsections. Teams will then play section schedules rather than conference schedules, playing teams within the subsection twice and teams in the other subsection once.

Below is a summary of the five divisions in the GoobNet Agency for Reintroducing Relegation to Recreational Game Hierarchies’ plan for collegiate men’s basketball in the United States.

League Initial Teams Teams
Total Prom Playoff Rel Playoff
First Division 256 DI 256 64* 64
Second Division 88 DI + 168 DII 256 64 64
Third Division 131 DII + 125 DIII 256 64 64
Fourth Division 256 DIII 256 64 64
Fifth Division 30 DIII + 247 NAIA 277 64 0
* First Division championship tournament teams

The divisions will not be permitted to attach sponsors’ names to their names, or to give them names that do not correspond to their position within the ladder.