Current season or competition:
2010 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament
NCAA logo.svg
NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship
Sport College basketball
Founded 1939
No. of teams 65 (since 2001)
Country(ies) United States
Most recent champion(s) North Carolina Tar Heels
Most championships UCLA Bruins (11)
TV partner(s) CBS, CBS College Sports Network, ESPN
Official website NCAA.com

The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is a single elimination tournament held each spring in the United States, featuring 65 college basketball teams, both conference champions and at-large selections. The tournament, organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was the brainchild of Kansas coach Phog Allen[1][2] Held mostly in March, it is informally known as March Madness or the Big Dance; the national semifinals and final (the Final Four) have become one of the nation’s most prominent sporting events.

Since its inception, the tournament bracket has included conference tournament champions from each Division I conference, which receive automatic bids. The remaining slots are at-large berths, with teams chosen by an NCAA selection committee. The selection process and tournament seedings are based on several factors, including team rankings, win-loss records and RPI data. The two lowest-seeded teams compete in the “opening round game” to determine which will join the other 63 teams in the first round of the tournament.

A Most Outstanding Player award is given by the Associated Press at the end of each tournament.

At 11 national titles, UCLA holds the record for the most NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships. The University of Kentucky is second, with 7 national titles, while the University of North Carolina and Indiana University are tied for third with 5 national titles.

The tournament is televised on CBS in the United States, except forthe opening round.

Overview

A total of 65 teams qualify for the tournament played in March and April. 31 teams earn automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments. Since the Ivy League does not conduct a post-season tournament, its automatic bid goes to the regular-season conference champion.

The remaining 34 tournament slots are granted to at-large bids, which are determined by the Selection Committee, a special committee appointed by the NCAA. Teams whose tournament inclusion status via at-large bids are unclear are called being on the “bubble“.[3] The committee also determines where all sixty-five teams are seeded and placed in the bracket.

The tournament is split into four regions and each region has teams seeded 1–16, with the committee making every region as comparable to the others as possible. The selection committee seeds teams in an “S” pattern, with the “highest” #1 seed, in the same region as the “lowest” #2 seed, and so on. The best team in each region plays the #16 team, the #2 team plays the #15, and so on. The effect of this seeding structure ensures that the better a team is seeded, the worse-seeded their opponents will be.

The brackets are not reseeded after each round. The tournament is single-elimination and there are no consolation games—although there was a third-place game as late as 1981, and each regional had a third-place game through the 1975 tournament. The single-elimination format produces opportunities for Cinderella teams to advance despite playing higher seeded teams. Nonetheless, despite the numerous instances of early-round Tournament upsets, including four instances of a #15 seed defeating a #2 seed, no #1 seed has ever lost in the first round to a #16 seed.

Opening round

When the Mountain West Conference was created in 1999, the winner of the Mountain West Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament for the 1999-2000 season did not receive an automatic bid. As an alternative to eliminating an at-large bid, the NCAA expanded the tournament to 65 teams beginning in 2001. The #64 and #65 seeds play the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Opening Round Game (informally known as the “play-in game”) on the Tuesday preceding the first weekend of the tournament. This game has been played at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio since its inception.

First and second rounds

Sixteen first round games are played on the Thursday following the NCAA’s selection of the teams. The remaining sixteen games are played Friday. Thursday’s winners play in eight second round games on Saturday, followed by Friday’s winners playing in the remaining eight second round games on Sunday. Thus, after the first weekend, 16 teams remain, commonly called the “Sweet Sixteen.”

Before the 2002 tournament, all teams playing at a first- or second-round site fed into the same regional tournament. Since 2002, the tournament has used the “pod system” designed to limit the early-round travel of as many teams as possible. In the pod system, each regional bracket is divided into four-team pods. The possible pods by seeding are:

  • Pod #1: 1v16, 8v9
  • Pod #2: 2v15, 7v10
  • Pod #3: 3v14, 6v11
  • Pod #4: 4v13, 5v12

Each of the eight first and second round sites is assigned two pods, where each group of four teams play each other. A host site’s pods may be from different regions, and thus the winners of each pod would advance into separate regional tournaments.

Regional semifinals and finals

The teams which are still alive after the first weekend advance to the regional semifinals (the Sweet Sixteen) and finals (the Elite Eight) played on the second weekend of the tournament (again, the games are split into Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday). Four regional semi-final games are played Thursday and four are played Friday. After Friday’s games, 8 teams (the Elite Eight) remain. Saturday features two regional final games matching Thursday’s winners and Sunday’s two final games match Friday’s winners. After the second weekend of the tournament, the four regional champions emerge as the “Final Four.”

Final Four

The winners of each region advance to the Final Four, where the national semifinals are played on Saturday and the national championship is played on Monday. Before the 2004 tournament, the pairings for the semifinals were based on an annual rotation. For example, in 2000, the winner of the West Regional played the winner of the Midwest regional, and the South winner played the East winner; in 2001, the West winner played the East winner and the South played the Midwest; in 2002, the West played the South and the East played the Midwest. Since 2004 and in response to complaints that too often the two best teams remaining squared off in a semifinal game and not in the final game (such as when the last two remaining 1 seeds, Kansas and Maryland, played in one semifinal while a 2 seed and a 5 seed played in the other semifinal), the pairings are determined by the ranking of the four top seeds against each other. The four number one seeds are ranked before the tournament begins.

Format history

The NCAA tournament has expanded a number of times throughout its history. This is a breakdown of the history of the tournament format:

  • 1939–1950: eight teams
  • 1951–1952: 16 teams
  • 1953–1974: varied between 22 and 25 teams
  • 1975–1978: 32 teams
  • 1979: 40 teams
  • 1980–1982: 48 teams
  • 1983: 52 teams (four play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1984: 53 teams (five play-in games before the tournament)
  • 1985–2000: 64 teams
  • 2001—present: 65 teams (with an opening round game to determine whether the 64th or 65th team plays in the first round)

To date there has been much speculation about increasing the tournament size to as many as 128 teams. However there have been no formal talks of doing so, and many consider the current format a huge success.

Prior to 1975, only one team per conference could be in the NCAA tournament. However, a few factors led the NCAA to expand the field. In the 1971 season, USC was #2 ranked in the country with its only 2 losses coming against conference rival and #1 ranked UCLA, so USC could not go to the tournament. In 1974, North Carolina State and Maryland, both in the ACC, were ranked #2 & #3 respectively. They met in a classic ACC title game that N.C. State won in overtime, gaining the ACC’s only tournament bid.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia