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Women's Basketball Selections 101 - Bracket


Building the Bracket

Step One

Before selection weekend, each committee member receives an “initial ballot” composed of two columns listing all eligible Division I teams in alphabetical order. Each committee member will submit the ballot by a designated time on the first full day of selection meetings. The committee selects the 32 best teams to fill the at-large berths. There is no limit on the number of at-large teams the committee may select from one conference.

Step Two

The committee will create a seed list — 1 through 64 — which is used to assess competitive balance of the top teams across the four regions of this national championship. Additionally, the seed list reflects the sequential order with which teams will be placed in the bracket. Once the seed list is finalized, it remains unchanged while the bracket is assembled. Importantly, various bracketing principles may preclude a team from being placed in its true seed on the seed list.

Step Three

A top priority for the committee is to achieve reasonable competitive balance in each region of the bracket. Sixteen levels are established (i.e., the seeds, Nos. 1 through 16) in the bracket that cross the four regions, permitting evaluation of four teams simultaneously on the same level. Teams on each seed line (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc.) should be as equal as possible.

Step Four

The committee will then go through the seed list, placing all teams by seed, starting with the four No. 1 seeds through the No. 4 seeds. After the top four seed lines have been assigned, the committee will determine the relative strengths of the regions by adding the true seed numbers in each region to determine if any severe numerical imbalance exists. Generally, no more than 5 points should separate the lowest and highest total. The committee also will attempt to assign each team to the most geographically compatible regional.

Step Five

These additional considerations also are made: If possible, rematches of regular-season games should be avoided in the preliminary rounds. Rematches of previous years’ tournament games should be avoided, as well. And after examining the previous five years’ brackets, teams or conferences will not be moved out of their natural region or geographic area an inordinate number of times.


Did You Know?

  • There’s no limit to the number of teams from a conference that can be selected for participation in the tourney.
  • Team performance in past years does not impact the current year’s value as an at-large candidate.
  • A late-season/conference tournament injury to a key player could impact a team’s seed.
  • Conference representatives cannot be in the room when teams from their conference are being discussed for inclusion, nor can they vote for them. The same goes for a school representative, who cannot be present for any discussion or vote involving their own school.
  • Committee members are assigned “primary” and “secondary” conferences to monitor throughout the season.