The most misunderstood part of bracketology is building the bracket. Once the seed list is compiled, the teams must then be placed in the bracket by regions and also assigned first- and second-round sites. Let’s look at some myths about bracketing.
Fiction: The committee sets up first-round matchups for the benefit of television.
Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. Starting at the top of the seed list, teams are placed in the region that is closest to their campus (some exceptions occur, but we will talk about those later). These games just happen, they are not manufactured. People often will comment to me a day after my bracket is released and that I set up certain matchups. I then scramble to pull up my bracket to see if the matchup is as they said. I truly have no idea. And the committee doesn’t either.
Fiction: The committee sends teams out west because of past infractions or because this conference has won too much in the past.
Fact: Teams are sent out of their natural region for two reasons: One is that there is only one region left to fill, and another is because of bracketing principles. Teams who have played each other three times in the season and conference tourney cannot meet each other until the regional final; they cannot meet until the regional semis if they have met twice and cannot meet until the regional quarterfinals if they met once. Another thing that comes into play is if a team is hosting a regional or first or second round games. Of course, they cannot play at those sites. So what looks like a snub or some punishment for past infractions is just a product of the bracket rules.
Fiction: A one-seed every year gets screwed by getting a tougher draw of two- and three- seeds.
Fact: Just the opposite is true. A few years ago, a rule was put in place that the overall No. 1 seed could not have the No. 1 two-seed placed in their region, even if it was the best geographically for that team. Also, the regions are balanced using a number system, so sometimes it may seem that teams are moved way out of their region unfairly. But it is actually done to keep the bracket balanced.
Fiction: The committee always favors teams like Duke, North Carolina and Kansas by giving them a home advantage and placing them where the arena will be dominated by their fans.
Fact: Actually this is sort of true. Not the favoring part, but being able to play close to home. The teams mentioned above can play in cities close to their campuses. So Duke and UNC can play in Charlotte if that is a site. If Duke and UNC are high seeds, they’ll get “first pick” to those sites. For instance, in this week’s bracket, Kansas is placed in Kansas City. This is totally acceptable as long as the Jayhawks have not played more than three games in that arena.
One more thing on bracketing. It is part of the overall exercise that I really enjoy. It can be done following all of the rules and procedures in as little as 5-10 minutes. However, sometimes it can be more complicated – this is one of those years. With the Big Ten, ACC, SEC and Big 12 putting anywhere from 7-9 teams in the field, some juggling needs to be done to follow all the procedures concerning conference teams meeting in the early rounds. So this may be a year where you see several teams placed outside of their regions due to the number of teams from the power conferences.
So when the bracket comes out, remember that the committee is not shafting your team. It’s most likely that it was just luck that your team got placed where it did. A simple solution to that? Win more games and get a better seed. Your chance of getting a site you want increases when that happens.
Follow me on twitter @tkbrackets. I will tweet out updates all weekend long.
A note about the automatic bids: In each conference, the team currently leading the league standings was given the automatic bid. Ties were broken using NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool), giving the auto bid to the team with the highest NET ranking.
LAST FOUR IN
Florida, UCF, Utah State, Furman
FIRST FOUR OUT
Alabama, Butler, Clemson, Lipscomb
NEXT FOUR OUT
UNC-Greensboro, Georgetown, South Carolina, Dayton
CONFERENCES WITH MULTIPLE BIDS
Big Ten (8)
Big 12 (8)
Big East (4)
Mountain West (2)