March Madness bracket: How the 68 teams are selected for the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
Here is how the 68 teams are selected every March for the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness.
Each member of the Division I men's basketball committee evaluates a vast amount of information during selection process. Their opinions -- developed through observations, discussions with coaches, directors of athletics and commissioners, and review and comparison of data -- ultimately determine selections, seeding and bracketing.
There are three phases to the process to determine the 68 teams for the tournament:
I. Select the 36 best at-large teams;
II. Seed the field of 68 teams; and
III. Place the teams into the championship bracket.
|2015-16 Committee Member Profiles|
Joe was named LSU’s director of athletics June 1, 2008 and 14 months later was promoted to vice chancellor. He went to LSU after spending the previous 32 years at Duke University, starting in the athletic department in Durham in 1980 before being named assistant director of athletics, then associate director of athletics and then athletics business manager. He was named director of athletics at Duke in 1998, overseeing each of the university’s 26 sports as well as the school’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation department. Joe began his service to the committee in September 2011.
Joe became the director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma on April 30, 1998, after serving as athletics director at Missouri for 17 years. A 1979 Maryland graduate, Castiglione received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in April 2007. He began his career as the sports promotions director at Rice University. He then worked a year as director of athletic fund-raising at Georgetown before being hired in 1981 at Missouri as director of communications and marketing. He chairs the NCAA’s Football Academic Progress Rate (APR) Working Group and is currently serving on the Gatorade Collegiate Advisory Board, the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, the NCAA Bowl Licensing Committee and the NCAA Working Group on Collegiate Model-Rules Committee. Joe began his service to the committee in the winter of 2011.
Janet is in her 10th year as Director of Athletics at UNC Asheville and also serves as the Senior Administrator for University Enterprises. She came to Asheville from Samford University where she served as the first head women's basketball coach in 1996 and coached the Bulldogs for five seasons. In 2002, Cone was named Assistant Athletic Director before being promoted to Associate Athletic Director in 2003. The Summerville, South Carolina native graduated magna cum laude from Furman University and earned her Master's from the University of South Carolina. Cone was named the Division I-AAA Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators in 2007 and in June 2013, she was one of just 28 Directors of Athletics to be named Under Armour AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Janet’s service to the committee began September 1, 2014.
Tom Holmoe was named Director of Athletics at Brigham Young University on March 1, 2005. Under his tutelage, the men's basketball program put together a string of six consecutive 25-win seasons and has made the postseason every season, including a NCAA Sweet-16 run in 2011. A native of La Crescenta, California, Holmoe came to BYU on a football scholarship in 1978. Holmoe earned first-team All-WAC honors as a senior in 1982 and was selected in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Over a seven-year NFL career, he played on three Super Bowl championship teams with the 49ers in 1984, 1988 and 1989. A former Cougar defensive back from 1978-82, Holmoe returned to BYU in July 2001 as Associate Athletics Director for Development. Holmoe graduated from BYU with a degree in Zoology in 1983 and received a master's degree from BYU in Athletic Administration in 1995. He and his wife, Lori, have four children and two grandchildren. Tom service to the committee began September 1, 2014.
Mark earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1985, serving as student manager for the Spartan men’s basketball team under legendary coach Jud Heathcote. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1992 and then joined the staff at the Western Athletic Conference. He then spent two years as assistant and associate athletics director at the University of Pittsburgh before returning to Michigan State in 1995. As senior associate athletics director, Hollis oversaw all external operations, including marketing and promotions, community relations, fundraising for special events, sports information, ticket operations, spirit groups, broadcast services and corporate sponsorships. He was named the director of athletics in 2008. Mark began his service on the committee in the fall of 2012.
|BERNARD MUIR Bernard Muir was named Stanford’s Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics on July 27, 2012. Under Muir’s guidance in 2012-13, Stanford kept alive two of the most unfathomable streaks in college athletics. Stanford won its 19th consecutive Directors’ Cup trophy as the top overall athletic program in the country and extended its streak of having won at least one NCAA national championship annually for the past 37 years, the longest such streak in the nation. He brought nearly 25 years of athletic administrative experience to Stanford, with stops at Delaware, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Butler, Auburn and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). As an undergraduate at Brown University, Muir was a four-year letter winner in basketball, and he serves as a member of the board of directors of USA Basketball. Bernard has a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior and management from Brown University earned in 1990 and a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University earned in 1992. He began his service with the committee on September 1, 2014.|
Bruce has been at Creighton University for better than three decades, including 12 years as the women’s basketball coach, guiding the Bluejays to the NCAA tournament and a Western Athletic Conference championship in his final season. After serving as the associate athletics director for two years, Bruce was elevated to his current position of Director of Athletics. A 2008 inductee to the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame, Rasmussen’s oversees Creighton’s role as the host institution for the Men’s College World Series each June in Omaha. He also was part of Creighton’s recent transition from the Missouri Valley Conference to the new Big East Conference. Bruce began service on the committee on September 1, 2013.
Peter Roby was named Northeastern University’s ninth athletics director on June 21, 2007. Prior to being named athletics director, Roby served as associate athletics director for student-athlete welfare during the 2005-06 season, in addition to his duties as the director of Sport in Society. Roby’s opinion pieces have been published on the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, the Indianapolis Star, the Dallas Morning News and the Oregonian. In October of 2007, Roby was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute of International Sport. Prior to assuming his post at Sport in Society, Roby was the vice president of U.S. marketing at Reebok. Roby is a 1979 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in government. He also holds a master's degree in leadership from Northeastern, which was conferred in 2008. A native of New Britain, Conn., Roby lives with his wife, Sandra in Newton, Massachusetts. Peter began his service to the committee in September 2012.
Jim Schaus was named Ohio University’s director of Athletics in April, 2008 after spending nine years leading the athletic department at Wichita State University. Schaus’ nearly quarter century of experience in intercollegiate athletics includes stops at the University of Oregon, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Texas at El Paso and Northern Illinois University. Schaus was a member of the initial NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance and has served men’s basketball as a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee. A 1983 Purdue University graduate, Schaus went on to earn a master’s degree from West Virginia University where he was recently honored as a distinguished alumnus by the institution. Jim and his wife Priscilla have three children: Kevin, Diane, and Laura. Jim began his service to the committee in September 2015.
White has been the director of athletics at Duke University for the past six years. Prior to arriving in Durham, White was the director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame from 2000-08. White’s distinguished career in athletic administration also includes stints as director of athletics at Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine and Loras College, where he originated the National Catholic Basketball Tournament. White has served on numerous NCAA committees, including the NCAA Council, formerly the NCAA’s highest governing body. White earned a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University after he completed his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1983. His son Michael is the head men’s basketball coach at Louisiana Tech, while another son, Danny, is the director of athletics at the University of Buffalo and played at Towson and Notre Dame. Kevin began his service to the committee in September 2015.
SELECTION, SEEDING, BRACKETING
The Selection, Seeding and Bracketing process for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship adheres to the following principles:
• The committee endeavors to achieve reasonable competitive balance in each region of the bracket;
• The committee selects the 36 best teams not otherwise automatic qualifiers for their conference to fill the at-large berths. There is no limit on the number of at-large teams the committee may select from one conference;
• A committee member (“member”) shall not be present during any discussion regarding the selection or seeding of a team the individual represents as an athletics director or commissioner;
• A member is permitted to answer only general, factual questions about teams in the conference the individual represents;
• At no point in the process shall a member vote for a team the individual represents as an athletics director or commissioner;
• A committee member shall not be present during any discussion regarding the selection or seeding of a team in which an immediate family member is a student-athlete on the men’s basketball team, is a member of the men’s basketball coaching staff or is a senior athletics administrator at the institution;
• At no point in the process shall a member vote for a team in which an immediate family member is a student-athlete on the men’s basketball team, is a member of the men’s basketball coaching staff or is a senior athletics administrator at the institution;
• All votes are by secret ballot.
Committee members have a wide-range of observation, consultation and data resources available to them throughout the season and during selection week. These resources provide the foundation for a thorough and educated process that is reinforced by the committee member’s discussion and deliberation. Among the resources available to the committee are an extensive season-long evaluation of teams through watching games, conference monitoring calls and NABC regional advisory rankings; complete box scores and results, head-to-head results, results versus common opponents, imbalanced conference schedules and results, overall and non-conference strength of schedule, the quality of wins and losses, road record, player and coach availability and various computer metrics. Each of the 10 committee members uses these various resources to form their own opinions, resulting in the committee’s consensus position on teams’ selection and seeding.
I. SELECTING AT-LARGE TEAMS
1. Prior to the selection meeting, each committee member receives an “initial ballot” comprised of two columns listing all eligible Division I teams in alphabetical order.
Each committee member will submit the ballot by a designated time on the first full day of selection meetings:
a. In the first column, each member shall identify not more than 36 teams that, in that member’s opinion, should be at- large selections (AL) in the tournament based upon play to date, regardless of whether the team could eventually represent its conference as the automatic qualifier.
b. In the second column, each member shall identify all teams that should receive consideration (C) for an at- large berth. There is no minimum or maximum limit in the second column; however, only teams meriting serious consideration should receive votes.
2. Any team receiving all but two of the eligible votes in Column 1 (AL) is moved into the tournament field as an at-large selection.
3. The committee will form an "under consideration” board consisting of an alphabetical listing of teams that:
a. Received at least three votes in either of the columns of the initial ballot but did not receive enough votes to be an at- large team; or
b. Won or shared the regular-season conference championship, as determined by the conference’s tie-break policy where applicable. This does not include teams that won or shared a division title but were not the regular-season conference champion.
4. A team may be removed from the “under consideration” board at any time if it receives all but two eligible votes.
5. A team may be added to the “under consideration” board at any time provided it receives at least three eligible votes.
6. Verbal nominations are permitted.
1. The committee then begins evaluating those teams on the “under consideration” board.
2. Each committee member will select the best eight teams from the “under consideration” board, in no particular order, to be added to the at-large field:
a. When 20 or more teams are under consideration in “list” ballots, each member shall select eight teams;
b. When 14 to 19 teams are under consideration, each member shall select six teams;
c. When 13 or fewer teams are under consideration, each member shall select four teams.
3. When 24 or fewer teams remain in the pool of teams (during the selection or seeding process), a member may not participate in “list X teams” votes if a team he or she represents as a commissioner or athletics director is included in the “pool.”
4. The eight teams receiving the most votes comprise the next at-large ballot.
5. Committee members then rank the eight teams, using a “ranking” scoring system (i.e., the best team is valued at one point).
6. The four teams receiving the fewest points shall be added to the at-large field. The other four teams will be held for the next ballot.
7. Each committee member then submits a list of the best eight teams remaining on the “under consideration” board to be added to the at-large field. The four teams with the highest vote totals are added to the teams carried over from No. 6 to comprise the next at-large ballot.
8. Steps No. 5, 6 and 7 will be repeated until all at-large berths are filled.
9. If a team fails to be included among the four teams receiving the fewest points (Step No. 6) for two consecutive ”rank” ballots, it shall be returned to the “under consideration” board, without prejudice.
10. At any time during the process, the number of teams eligible to receive votes may be increased or decreased by the chair if circumstances warrant. Further, the chair has the option to revise the number of teams from four to two to be moved into at- large berths per No. 6.
11. A team may be removed from the at-large field by a vote of all but two of the eligible votes. Such a team would be returned to the “under consideration” board, without prejudice.
12. At any time during the process of selecting the at-large teams, the committee may elect to begin seeding the teams (Section II). This allows the committee to proceed while allowing time for results of games played during selection weekend.
II. SEEDING TEAMS
The committee will create a “seed list” (i.e. rank of the teams in “true seeds” 1 through 68) which reflects the relative qualitative assessment of the field in descending order, and is used to assess competitive balance of the top teams across the four regions of the championship. The seed list reflects the sequential order with which teams will be placed in the bracket. Once the “seed list” is finalized, it remains unchanged while the bracket is assembled.
Importantly, various principles may preclude a team from being placed in its “true” seed position in the bracket.
Procedures for Seeding
1. Each committee member will submit a list of the best eight teams, in no particular order, from teams that are in the tournament as automatic qualifiers or at-large selections:
a. When 20 or more teams are on the list ballot, each member shall list eight teams;
b. When 14 to 19 teams are on the list ballot, each member shall list six teams;
c. When 13 or fewer teams are on the list ballot, each member shall list four teams.
Note: When 24 or fewer teams are on the list ballot to be seeded, a member may not participate in “list X teams” ballots if a team he or she represents as a commissioner or athletics director, or has an immediate family member conflict, is included in the “pool.”
2. The eight teams receiving the most votes comprise the next seed list ballot.
3. Committee members rank the eight teams from No. 1, using a “ranking” scoring system (i.e., the best team is valued at one point).
4. The four teams receiving the fewest points are moved onto the seed list in ascending order of vote total. The other four teams are held for the next rank ballot.
5. Each committee member then submits a list of the best eight remaining teams that are in the tournament as automatic qualifiers or at-large selections. The four teams with the highest vote totals are added to the teams carried over from No. 4 to comprise the next seed list ballot.
6. Steps No. 3, 4 and 5 are repeated until all the teams are seeded.
7. After a team has been voted into the seed list, it may be moved by a simple majority of eligible votes. This “scrubbing” of the seed list allows the committee to affirm true seed accuracy throughout selection weekend and ultimately, in the bracket. Scrubbing is exclusively for teams that are in the field.
8. The committee is not obligated to assemble the seed list in sequential order. For example, the committee may use the procedures to determine the fourth quadrant of teams at any time.
|Rating Percentage Index (RPI)|
|Several independent elements are combined to produce the RPI. These elements are a part of the statistical information that may or may not be utilized by each member in any manner they choose.
The RPI is one of many resources/tools available to the committee in the selection, seeding and bracketing process. Computer models cannot accurately evaluate qualitative factors such as games missed by key players or coaches, travel difficulties, the emotional effects of specific games, etc.
Beginning each December, the NCAA will release the official RPI on a daily basis.
Each committee member independently evaluates a vast amount of information during the process to make individual decisions. It is these qualitative, quantitative and subjective opinions -- developed after hours of personal observations, discussion with coaches, directors of athletics and commissioners, and review and comparison of various data -- that each individual ultimately will determine their vote on all issues related to selections, seeding and bracketing.
The individual components (i.e., win-loss record, opponents' record, opponent opponents' record, where the game is played) of the RPI in and of themselves, are important in the evaluation process.
Click here for RPI Archive/Team Sheets
III. BUILDING THE BRACKET
Sixteen levels are established (i.e., the seeds, 1 through 16) in the bracket that cross the four regions, permitting evaluation of four teams simultaneously on the same level. Teams on each seed line (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc.) should be as equal as possible.
Each region is divided into quadrants with four levels in each, permitting the evaluation of four different sections within each region against the same sections in each of the other regions.
The committee will assign all four teams in each bracket group (seeds 1, 16, 8, 9), (4, 13, 5, 12), (2, 15, 7, 10), (3, 14, 6, 11) to the same first-/second-round site. There will be two ”pods‟ at each first-/second-round site which may feed into different regional sites.
Each of the first four teams selected from a conference shall be placed in different regions if they are seeded on the first four lines.
Teams from the same conference shall not meet prior to the regional final if they played each other three or more times during the regular season and conference tournament.
Teams from the same conference shall not meet prior to the regional semifinals if they played each other twice during the regular season and conference tournament.
Teams from the same conference may play each other as early as the second round if they played no more than once during the regular season and conference tournament.
Any principle can be relaxed if two or more teams from the same conference are among the last four at-large seeded teams participating in the First Four.
To recognize the demonstrated quality of such teams, the committee shall not place teams seeded on the first four lines at a potential “home-crowd disadvantage” in the first round.
The last four at-large teams on the overall seed list, as well as teams seeded 65 through 68, will be paired to compete in the First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday following the announcement of the field. (If allowed, the last at-large team on the seed list will be paired with the second-to-last at-large team on the seed list. The other First Four games will consist of the third-to-last at-large team on the seed list playing the fourth-to-last at-large team on the seed list, as well as seed 65 versus 66; and seed 67 versus 68).
The winners of the First Four games will advance to a first- and second-round site to be determined by the committee during selection weekend. In the event a First Four site is also a first- and second-round site, the winners of the First Four games may be assigned to that site, regardless of the days of competition.
Teams will remain in or as close to their areas of natural interest as possible. A team moved out of its natural area will be placed in the next closest region to the extent possible. If two teams from the same natural region are in contention for the same bracket position, the team ranked higher in the seed list shall remain in its natural region.
A team will not be permitted to play in any facility in which it has played more than three games during its season, not including exhibitions and conference postseason tournaments.
A host institution’s team shall not be permitted to play at the site where the institution is hosting. However, the team may play on the same days when the institution is hosting.
Teams may play at a site where the conference of which it is a member is serving as the host.
A team may be moved up or down one (or in extraordinary circumstances) two lines from its true seed line (e.g., from the 13 seed line to the 12 seed line; or from a 12 seed line to a 13 seed line) when it is placed in the bracket if necessary to meet the principles.
Procedures for Placing the Teams into the Bracket
1. The committee will place the four No. 1 seeds in each of the four regions, thus determining the Final Four semifinals pairings (overall 1 vs. 4; 2 vs. 3).
2. The committee will then place the No. 2 seeds in each region in true seed list order. The committee may relax the principle of keeping teams as close to their area of natural interest for seeding teams on the No. 2 line to avoid, for example, the overall No. 5 seed being sent to the same region as the overall No. 1 seed. The committee will not compromise the principle of keeping teams from the same conference in separate regions.
3. The committee will then place the No. 3 seeds in each region in true seed list order.
4. The committee will then place the No. 4 seeds in each region in true seed list order.
5. After the top four seed lines have been assigned, the committee will review the relative strengths of the regions by adding the “true seed” numbers in each region to determine if any severe numerical imbalance exists. Generally, no more than five points should separate the lowest and highest total.
6. In “true seed” order, the committee then assigns each team (and, therefore, all teams in its bracket group—e.g., seeds 1, 8, 9, 16) to first-/second-round sites.
7. The committee will then place seeds Nos. 5-16 in the bracket, per the principles. The four teams assigned to the seed line, 5 through 16, will have the same numerical
1. If possible, rematches of non-conference regular-season games should be avoided in the First Four and first round.
2. If possible, after examining the previous two years’ brackets, teams or conferences will not be moved out of its natural region or geographic area an inordinate number of times.
3. If possible, rematches from the previous two tournaments should be avoided in the first round.
• NCAA.org: DI Men's Basketball Selections 101