March Madness is an exciting time for men’s basketball. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The ultimate round is known as the “Final Four” where there are only four teams left to compete.
This year, Selection Sunday was held on March 13, where the selection committee revealed the full NCAA tournament bracket that included all teams and all seeds. The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee selects and creates a seed and bracket for the NCAA Tournament. There are two ways for teams to be selected in the NCAA tournament. The 32 Division I conferences receive an automatic bid, which is granted to the teams that win the postseason conference tournament. It does not matter how a team played during the regular season. If the team can play in the postseason tournament and win their conference, then they can receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Another way for teams to be invited to the NCAA tournament is through an at-large bid. On Selection Sunday, the selection committee determines which 36 teams (that are not automatic qualifiers) can earn an invitation to the tournament. When it comes to deciding what teams get an at-large bid, there is no set formula. The selection committee reviews statistics and rankings while also determining what team deserves an at-large bid.
After Selection Sunday, one can participate in March Madness by filling out a bracket. The official bracket game of the NCAA is known as the Bracket Challenge Game. The brackets will lock before the first game that the first round begins. No one has ever had a perfect bracket, but that should not stop one from filling it out.
Before any tournament game is played, the teams are ranked according to their regular season and conference tournament performances. Once the 68 teams are chosen, then each team is assigned to a seed (group) and placed in one of four regions. The best team in college basketball ranks at No. 1. This will then determine the first-round matchups and a team’s path to the championship. In order to reward the better teams, first-round matchups are made by putting the top team in the region against the bottom team. The one-seed teams tend to have the easiest opening matchup in the bracket. After the opening round of the tournament, four teams are eliminated while 64 teams are left to compete. They too are ranked from one through 16, according to their region. That ranking is the team’s seed.
As of now, there are “Sweet 16” teams left in the NCAA Tournament. The teams include Gonzaga, Arkansas, Villanova, Michigan, Duke, Texas Tech, Arizona, Houston, Purdue, Saint Peter’s, Kansas, Providence, UCLA, North Carolina, Miami and Iowa State. These games will be held on Thursday, March 24 and Friday, March 25. The winning teams will advance to the “Elite Eight” during the following week and finally, the “Final Four” teams will play on April 2 and April 4. Best of luck to the “Sweet 16” teams that are left in the NCAA Tournament!