First Four (March 18 and 19)
University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio (Host: University of Dayton)
Rounds of 64 and 32 (March 20 and 22)
First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York (Host: MAAC)
BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Host: Marquette University)
Amway Center in Orlando, Florida (Host: Stetson University)
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Washington (Host: Washington State University)
Rounds of 64 and 32 (March 21 and 23)
PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina (Host: North Carolina State University)
AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas (Host: University of Texas-San Antonio)
Viejas Arena in San Diego, California (Host: San Diego State University)
Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri (Host: Missouri Valley Conference)
Regional Semifinals and Finals (March 27 and 29)
Honda Center in Anaheim, California (Host: Big West Conference)
FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee (Host: University of Memphis)
Regional Semifinals and Finals (March 28 and 30)
Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana (Host: Horizon League and IUPUI)
Madison Square Garden in New York, New York (Host: St. John's University and Big East Conference)
Final Four and the National Championship (April 5 and 7)
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Host: Big 12 Conference)
So here are some things to keep in mind when the NCAA basketball committee starts placing teams in the bracket (I wrote these as they came to me so it's not in any order of importance; Updated August 2013):
- The top 4 teams on the NCAA seed list of 68 are the number one seeds and placed in the region closest to them. If two or more teams claim a particular region to be closest, the team ranked higher on the seed list gets to stay. In the Final Four, the "#1" region will be paired with the "#4" region while #2 is paired with #3.
- Teams 5-16 on the seed list are then assigned to the closest region available in "true seed" order. At this point, you can calculate each region's relative strength by adding up the true seeds of the top 4 teams in each region. Generally, the difference between the highest ranked region and lowest should be 5 or less but in 2012, the difference was 8, which tells us geography is playing a much larger role in the bracketing process.
- At this point, teams 1-16 on the seed list are assigned in "true seed" order to the closest pod (round of 64/32) site as possible. After that, everybody else is placed in the bracket.
- Teams in the top 4 seed lines cannot be placed into a home crowd disadvantage in the round of 64 (it used to be the top 5 seed lines, but the NCAA changed it).
- Host schools can't be placed in the sites where they're hosting. So this season, Marquette, Stetson, Wazzu, NC State, UTSA, SDSU, Memphis, IUPUI and St. John's won't be placed at their home sites if they make the tourney. However, schools in a conference that's hosting a pod or regional can be placed there.
- Schools who played more than 3 times in a host facility (excluding postseason conference tournaments) also can't play there in the tournament.
- BYU doesn't play on Sunday so if they make the tournament, they will not be placed in Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Indianapolis or New York City.
- First Four winners playing on Tuesday will funnel into a Thursday pod. If they play on Wednesday, the winners will go to a Friday pod. The committee will try to place these teams in a pod as close to Dayton as possible to minimize travel.
- If possible, the committee will look back at the last two tournaments and make sure schools haven't been placed out of their geographic area an "inordinate number of times." What's an inordinate number of times? I don't know. Can't be more than 4.
- The top 4 teams from each conference in the top 4 seed lines can't be placed in the same region.
- No rematches between two conference teams until:
- the round of 32 if the two conference teams met once in the regular season.
- the round of 16 if the two conference teams met twice in the regular season.
- the round of 8 if the two conference teams met three or more times in the regular season.
- If possible, regular season rematches should be avoided in the First Four and the round of 64. In addition, rematches from the previous two tournaments should be avoided in the round of 64.
Everybody got that?
For more on how the NCAA committee builds the bracket, read the principles and procedures.