March Madness for Dummies

March Madness for Dummies

Trevor Beurman

As Washburn’s Men’s basketball team enters the NCAA tournament as the seventh seed in the central region, many of the not-so-sports-savvy people have some questions to clear up as they get ready to cheer on the team. While Washburn fell to the Northwest Missouri Bearcats Sunday, March 4, they were still seeded high enough in their conference to get a spot in the NCAA regional tournament. 

Who gets selected into the field in the NCAA Tournament?

The NCAA Tournament is derived from automatic bids and at-large bids. The field also varies from division to division, for example, the Division I tournament yields a field of 68 teams (with four play-in games) while the Division II tournament yields teams that make up a field of 64.

What are automatic bids?

Automatic bids are given to the champions of conference tournaments, the one exception to this rule is the Ivy League in Division I that does not have a conference tournament. This method of tournament selection is special because it means that even a team that performs poorly throughout the season can potentially trump the higher teams in the tournament and receive the automatic bid. Most of the time this is the only way that mid-major conferences can send a team to the tournament. Every conference gets an automatic bid.

Why is the Ivy League a certain exception to the auto bid rule?

The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, therefore, they award their automatic bid to the best record in the conference season.

What is a seed?

A seed is a rank. Every region in the tournament gets their own seed for each team which is why there are four seeds for each rank. The teams are called seeds because they are being “planted” in the tournament.

What are mid-major conferences?

Mid-major conferences are conferences that hold teams that usually do not receive at-large bids. It is near impossible for a mid-major conference to become a major conference unless major schools move to the aforementioned conference. Mid-majors are usually called out for their potential to upset major teams in the tournament.

What is an at-large bid?

An at-large bid is a bid awarded to a team that has had a quality season but did not win their conference tournament. Most of the time these bids are only awarded to major conferences that have teams with better resumes. This is where the NCAA can be criticized the most because not every team can make the tournament and they mostly base the hard decisions completely on statistics.

How does the NCAA select at-large bids?

In previous years the NCAA made selections based on RPI or Rating Percentage Index. This year the NCAA is now using a quadrant system that bases wins and losses off of location and the team’s rank. This then determines a Quadrant one win or loss and so on and so forth.