The varying states of NCAA tournament Bracketology

UniqueThis 14 November 24, 2020
Photo illustration of basketball players

By Joe Lunardi 11/24/20

The 2020–21 college basketball season is unique. All involved — coaches, players, administrators, media, fans — can expect postponements, cancellations and adjustments to the normal cycle of games and the postseason.

This includes the NCAA tournament, which is under the largest microscope after the abrupt end to the 2019–20 season. The 2021 tourney is on schedule, albeit at a single site.

In addition to the standard 68-team NCAA projections, Bracketology now includes 48-team and 16-team versions. The truth is there is no way to know at this point what Selection Sunday will bring, so all bases must be covered.

The primary adjustment from a normal year is, of course, the playing of the entire NCAA tournament at a single site. There is also no need to bracket any team away from a regional or subregional it is hosting, or attempt to give teams geographic priority based on their position on the seed list.

A condensed selection process reduces the field by 10 at-large teams and 10 automatic qualifiers (the latter of which still receive a revenue unit). The top four seeds in each region receive a bye into the second round, with four first-round games per region — 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9 — being played without fans on the higher seed’s home court.

To minimize travel, first-round pairings will be guided by geography to the greatest extent possible. And the reduced field results in only 32 teams competing at the central site. All participants must post a minimum .500 conference record — the “Lunardi Rule” — for at-large consideration.

The committee selects and seeds the 16 best available teams. There are no automatic qualifiers, although all non-competing conference champions receive the designated revenue unit.

To maintain some sense of national balance, conference participation is capped at four teams. And no region shall have more than one team from the same conference.


Around the World

6479 news found.
Grid View
List View
  • 01/20: Red and Blue
  • Inauguration Live Updates: Biden takes office, moving quickly to implement agenda
  • Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving returns, scores 37 points in double-overtime loss to Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Larry Scott's 11-year run as Pac-12 commissioner to end in June
  • Henry To'o To'o among 4 Tennessee players to enter portal after Jeremy Pruitt firing
  • NBA postpones sixth consecutive game for the Washington Wizards
  • NBA to enforce rules forbidding hugs, handshakes with midcourt security
  • Alex Ovechkin, 3 others on COVID-19 absence list as NHL fines Washington Capitals $100K for violations of protocols
  • Biden plans temporary halt of oil activity in Arctic refuge
  • Sources -- J.A. Happ, Minnesota Twins agree to deal
  • Answering the biggest injury questions for NFL conference championship playoff teams