Format decided for 68-team tourney: The 2011 championship will tip off with four first-round games, all broadcast nationally in primetime for the first time.
Read the full story
Q & A with NCAA Senior Vice president of Division I Men’s Basketball and Business Strategies: Greg Shaheen spoke to a select group of reporters about Monday’s “First Four” announcement. Read the story
Chronology: How the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship bracket has grown over time: Read the story
Looking back: An inside look at how the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1984. Read the story
By Kristen Leigh Porter
Dan Guerrero, the chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, spoke to a select group of reporters about the format for the expanded, 68-team championship in 2011. Here are some excerpts to some of the questions:
Question: How did the committee reach its decision?
Answer: Three models were considered: ranking the entire field from 1 to 68 and the final eight seeds pay in the first round, having the final eight at-large seeds play in the first round, and a hybrid model. “The committee discussed all three models presented extensively. There was no consensus among the committee members on a format going into the meeting in Chicago. We centered our discussions primarily on what would be best for the student-athlete, best for the tournament, best for our broadcast partners and the membership and then of course the good of the game and competitive match-ups. Those questions are subjective depending on an individual’s filter, in terms of how they address this whole process. In the end, we selected a format that we felt allows us to break new ground. We are excited about the concept of the First Four. We’re really pleased with where we wound up and how it would add value to the tournament as we move forward.”
Q: Why didn’t the committee select the No. 1 option, which is the true seed 1-68?
A: We certainly discussed that. What’s interesting is that when we solicited input from the membership, one might think there would be an alignment of vision from the equity conferences, an alignment of vision from those conferences that don’t have football and so on. It would have made it a little bit easier to sort things out. I’ve never been involved in a process where opinions differed so much between different aspects of the membership. We received information from conferences, we received information and recommendations from associations … Certainly we talked about that particular model and the merits of that model. But we felt that there was an opportunity to do something a little bit different. In essence, the hybrid-plus or hybrid-hybrid model or whatever you want to call it - because it isn’t one of the original three models that we discussed - it really takes the input from all the constituents out there and creates a First Four that we believe is the most fair given all the options we had and still creates great drama in the first round.
Q: Do you feel like the stigma of the opening round game has been reduced if not eliminated?
A: That particular stigma was something that had been created almost 10 years ago. The opening round game had in many respects been called a play-in game. We feel that by rebranding the tournament and creating an exciting scenario those stigmas will certainly be eliminated. Whoever wins those games gets the opportunity to advance in the field like anyone else. They will share in revenue just like every other team. We feel this format creates a 68-team field that will be exciting and will hopefully minimize any stigma that had been created in the past.
Q: What are the chances that you move any of these games out of Dayton (the current site of the opening-round game)? Right now, where does it stand as the host of one or all of these games?
A: That’s always a possibility. Dayton has been a great venue and a great site for the opening-round games. We anticipate discussions relative to Dayton continuing in that regard. However, as the committee looks at the possibility of the future there could be a number of other scenarios that could come into play… We’re certainly looking at Dayton as the venue for the First Four.
Q: If there are two seeds playing for a 10 seed and two teams playing for a 12 seed, is the loser of the 10 seed game not getting a raw deal compared to either of the teams playing in the 12 seed game?
A: Not necessarily. One of the added values that we felt as we move forward with this is that the games that are going to be played in the First Four are similar games. They are games among like teams. We felt that the two teams that are playing against each other – whether they’re 10s, whether they’re 12s, whether they’re 11s – are like teams. Those particular teams are the last four at-large teams in the field. We felt that was an appropriate move to make being that the expanded tournament actually added the three at-large teams, so they were new teams in the field.” Those three teams, with what would be the 34th at-large team, we felt would create better drama for the tournament. The First Four would be that much more exciting. We don’t think it provides any undue disadvantage for any of those teams.
Q: If they’re like teams why would they not get almost identical seeds if not identical seeds?
A: The seeding process will continue as it always has. Use the 10 line and the 12 line merely as an example. We don’t know where those teams will line up. They could all be 12 seeds, they could all be on the 11 line, we just don’t know. Once that seeding process takes place, the principles and procedures come into play and they’ll be slotted appropriately.
Q: How comfortable are you that a 10 seed doesn’t even make it to the next round?
A: We took that into consideration and that would have been a consideration if all eight at-large teams had been part of the First Four. The expanded tournament allowed for three new at-large teams to get into the tournament. We thought it was appropriate for those three teams to be part of the equation as well as that 34th at-large team. Remember, every one of those 68 teams is a member of the tournament. They are part of the tournament and will share in the revenues that are provided by the tournament. This is an opportunity for those teams, just like anyone else, to advance in the tournament.