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.)

  • 1
    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.
    – user527
    Mar 19, 2013 at 17:28
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 3
    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. Mar 20, 2013 at 15:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.