ESPN’s bracketology efforts are focused on introducing the NCAA tournament field, just as we expect the NCAA Division I basketball committee to select the field in March. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi uses the same data points preferred by the committee, including strength of schedule and other season-long indicators, including NET and team-sheet data, available to the NCAA, for his region. in estimates. Visit the NCAA website for a complete understanding of NCAA Selection Criteria,
The 68-team bracket is the standard version of the NCAA tournament field that has existed since 2011. If the 2021 field consists of 68 teams, there will be some key differences to previous years.
The primary adjustment from a typical year is of course the entire NCAA tournament games at the same site. This eliminates the need for geographic considerations in seeding. Additionally, this season will have at least one less automatic qualifier, as the Ivy League’s decision to drop the 2020–21 season reduces the number of AQ entries to 31 for this season.
In this launch, a condensed selection process would reduce 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 would 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. Home Court of the High Seed.
To minimize travel, the first round pairings will be guided to the greatest extent by geography. and the reduced field result in only 32 teams competing at the central site. All participants must post at least a .500 conference record – the “Lunardi Rule” – to be considered at large.
In this projection, the committee selects and seeds the 16 best available teams. There is no automatic qualification, although all non-competitive conference champions receive a designated revenue unit.
To maintain some sense of national balance, conference participation is fixed at four teams. And no region shall have more than one party from the same convention.