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What In The Hell? The NCAA Is Actually Doing Something Smart And Completely Changing The NCAA Tournament Bracket For This Year

[Source] - The method, commonly referred to as the S-curve, involves the same first step the committee would normally use, which entails putting the top four teams on the seed list in the four separate regions. From there, however, things will be different in 2021. The overall No. 5 seed will be placed in the same region as the overall No. 4. The overall No. 6 will be placed with the overall No. 3. The overall No. 7 seed will be paired with the overall No. 2, and the overall No. 8 will be in the same region as the top-seeded team. The next step would be to place the third-seeded teams, with the overall No. 9 seed joining the Nos. 1 and 8 seeds in one region, the No. 10 seed being placed with the Nos. 2 and 7 seeds, the No. 11 seed going to the same region as the Nos. 3 and 6 seeds, and the No. 12 seed joining the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds. The first quadrant of tournament teams is completed by placing the fourth-seeded teams in each region as follows: the overall No. 13 with Nos. 4, 5 and 12; No. 14 with Nos. 3, 6 and 11; No. 15 with Nos. 2, 7 and 10; and No. 16 with Nos. 1, 8 and 9. The process repeats itself for teams seeded 5-16, using the overall seed list to place teams in their respective regions.

The committee’s intent will be to stay true to the S-curve for placing teams on the bracket, though the following existing principles will still be applied accordingly:

  • Each of the top four teams selected from a conference shall be placed in different regions if they are seeded on the first four lines.
  • Teams from the same conference shall not meet before the regional final if they played each other three or more times during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.
  • Teams from the same conference shall not meet before the regional semifinals if they played each other twice during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.
  • Teams from the same conference may play each other as early as the second round if they played no more than once during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.
  • If possible, rematches of nonconference regular-season games should be avoided in the First Four and first round.

I have no idea what is going on in the world because the NCAA is finally making sense and doing something smart. I also have no idea why we'd only do this for 2021. They are essentially using the S-curve and taking out geographical preference, which should have been done years ago. There was always a geographical preference the committee gave teams to 'limit travel' which didn't make much sense. Ask coaches and teams across the country and they'd rather play an easier opponent than play closer to home. It's the NCAA Tournament, big name schools travel well and will always have an advantage no matter where they play. 

Obviously you have to do it this year considering everything is taking place in Indiana. There is no geographical preference for a better seeded team. It doesn't matter if you play at Hinkle or Assembly Hall. It's all the same. So the No. 1 overall seed should be seeded with the worst 8/9 seed, 4/5 seed, 2/3 seed, etc. That should be the reward. At least we're getting closer to that if we're not going true S-Curve the entire time and building a balanced bracket. That's what we need to see when you have one game to advance. Make it as balanced as possible. You can't do it completely that way because of rules in place like not playing a conference opponent in the first round or until the Sweet 16, etc if you can avoid it. But the fact it's taken a pandemic to make sense is a bit ridiculous.

When we get back to normal life, this needs to continue. Let the No. 1 overall seed pick what region they want. If it's Gonzaga and they want to stay in the West, give them that. Then let the No. 2 overall seed pick, then 3 and 4. From there use the S-curve and stop worrying about geography. You should be rewarded on the bracket for being a 1 seed, not getting a better 2 seed or whatever because it's close to home. 

But since it's 2021, we're seeing a bunch of changes including to the conference tournaments: 

We still have about 6 weeks until the start of conference tournaments and we're already getting changes. Can't say these are surprising and I expect almost all of these smaller conferences to do something like this. Moving the tournament from a neutral location to a campus to save money or a true basketball centric place like the Pentagon in South Dakota. Honestly, who cares? There won't be fans in attendance for pretty much all of them, so let's get weird with it. I hope Rose Hill hosts the A-10 Tournament. Give me the Big 10 at Nebraska, the SEC at Memorial, the Big 12 at Hilton. Put them in places that would never host a tournament for one year, this season is already off the rails. 

But you have to be prepared for anything. Fran Fraschilla tweeted this out: 

I can't stress how much I hate this idea. Don't get me wrong, I understand it. The goal is to have an NCAA Tournament. That's goal number 1 for everyone in the sport. Not having a conference tournament builds more time for quarantine, etc, but that's how an automatic bid should be decided. Too many of these leagues have unbalanced regular season schedules where it's not the most fair way to give an automatic bid to a regular season champ. Also what happens if there's a 3 or 4-way tie? Are we really going to go to like the 6th tiebreaker to determine the champ? I hate that. Instead of scheduling these one-off games that get PPD in the regular season, have the conference tournament and have a losers bracket. Those games still count and you get games in. Obviously if a team misses like 10 games due to a pause, you have to make up a couple because of the 13 game minimum requirement for the NCAA Tournament. But if a team just misses a week or so, this is the better set up. Why not? We're trying everything else this year.


It's just a bit relieving to see the NCAA adapt to the time. Now just keep it going forward.