NCAA Basketball

We all know that the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament draws a vast number of viewers to the TV screen each year, but how does the D1 Tournament work?

Whether you are a casual fan or a dedicated basketball addict, Pay Per Head Agents is here to inform you about how the most exciting sports event of the year is put together.

How they get there

First, there are two ways that a college can qualify for the D1 tournament: by obtaining an automatic berth via a conference championship, or an at-large berth via selection by the NCAA selection committee.

There are 32 conferences overall in the NCAA Division 1 college basketball tournament, so the winner of each conference is automatically awarded a berth in the tournament. The at-large bids are given to 36 teams that did not win their conference tournament but are nonetheless deemed worthy by the selection committee to be worthy of participation in the tournament. That committee is made up of 10 conference administrators that were selected by their conference to represent a cross-section of Division I membership.

The Selection Committee looks at several key factors before deciding who makes it and who doesn’t, including record, ranking, win margin, and other factors. In the past, they used a system called the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), but as of this year, they will be using a newer, more nuanced system called the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET).

Getting the ball rolling

After the 68 teams are chosen, the four lowest-ranked Automatic Bids and the four lowest-ranked At-Large bids play an initial tournament called the First Four. Four teams are eliminated from that opening round, thus narrowing the field to 64 to fill the main bracket.

From there, the selection committee splits the field into four regions: East, West, South, and Midwest. Sixteen teams are assigned to each region with respect to their ranking. The top team plays the #16 team, the #2 team plays the #15 seed, and so on. This makes the bracket fairer for the teams that finished with a higher ranking. Instead of having to face tougher competition from the get-go, they get to meet a lower ranked team that they have a better chance of beating.

Magic is in the air

Part of the magic of the tournament is that its single-elimination format allows for lower-ranked teams to upset better squads and move deep into the tournament. Every year there is at least one surprise ‘Cinderella’ team that catches fire and upsets higher ranked teams. Last year, Loyola of Chicago stunned the nation when they fought their way through the bracket all the way to the Final Four. Ranked 11th at the start of the tournament, they defeated teams ranked 6th, 3rd, 7th, and 9th on their way to the final bracket, where they finally lost to Michigan in the semifinal.

What will happen this year is impossible to say, but that is what makes this tournament special. Giants will fall, star players will make their mark, and a champion will be crowned. Whatever happens, at Pay Per Head Agents, we make it easy for your clients to enjoy this incredible event to its fullest.