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In the "field of 65" style tournament bracket, there were two 16-seeds (presumably the weakest teams) that had a play-in game in order to play the overall #1 seed. When they expanded to 68, it's now 4 play-in games between 16-16 seeds, 13-13 seeds, 11-11 seeds and 16-16 seeds. Why didn't they just do it between all 16 seeds? Was there specific reasoning? Is it the same seeds in each region every year or is there a mechanism for selecting which teams will play in Round 1.

(I know it can be debated that playing in such a game can be a good warm-up for lower seeds, but I don't think that was the official reason.)

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Note that the 11 and 16 seeds are playing into the first round of the Midwest bracket...and the South bracket with no seeds playing into the first round. –  edmastermind29 Mar 19 '13 at 17:28
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That's true. The Midwest is the bracket with the overall #1, so perhaps a "bonus" for them? Basketball should just get a BCS system, it would solve all these problems. ;P –  Devin Mar 19 '13 at 17:34

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

The stated methodology for teams selected to play in the "First Four" is a) the four lowest seeded automatic-bid qualifiers (i.e. the four lowest-rated conference tournament winners), and b) the four lowest seeded at-large bid qualifiers. It is the b) category that gets us "11 vs 11", "12 vs 12", "13 vs 13", etc. games. Where these play-in winners wind up in the four regional brackets is not consistent from year to year. Each year, I believe, one of the regional brackets has had 2 of these play-in teams, while another regional had none.

The NCAA is likely trying to maintain the established balance between automatic-bid and at-large bid teams in the Div-1 tournament.

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Note that this year, the 11 vs. 11 game is not between the third and fourth lowest-rated at-large teams; California, seeded 12, is the third lowest, but due to logistics the committee placed them in a normal game. –  Michael Myers Mar 20 '13 at 15:36

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