Every year in March, college basketball fans anxiously await Selection Sunday to see if their team made the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament, affectionately referred to as March Madness. March Madness is a three week-long single-elimination tournament in which 64 teams compete to take home the highly coveted National Championship title. The fun isn’t just reserved for fans - countless people from all across the globe fill out tournament brackets and bet on which teams will make deep runs and ultimately win it all.While coaches, teams, and fans alike want to see their preferred team effortlessly stroll through the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four to play in the National Championship game, they first have to survive the first weekend of the tournament. Putting the ‘madness’ into March Madness, the first and second rounds of the tournament (Round of 64 and Round of 32, respectively) are historically filled with the most chaos, with underdog teams defying odds by knocking out highly favored teams early on. Because of the precedence for upsets in the first round of the tournament, there is a lot of focus on the matchups and locations for each competing team.
Selection Sunday does more than just determine who gets into the tournament - it also determines where the chosen teams play, who they play against, and how highly they are ranked.
Each team is listed from best to worst with an overall rank, a number 1 to 64*, in which 1 represents the overall best team in the tournament and 64 represents the worst. These rankings are then grouped into 16 seeds of four teams each, wherein 1 seeds are the best teams and 16 seeds are the worst teams. Many considerations go into the creation of March Madness brackets, but the idea is that higher seeds are rewarded for their regular season performance by playing against the lowest ranked teams. Additionally, the selection committee is supposed to give top ranked teams geographic preference in their first round sites.
Because March Madness is a single-elimination tournament, teams only have one shot in each round to advance to the next level. All teams put their best foot forward, but there's no room for an off game - one bad night can (and has) cost the best team in the nation a shot at the national title. Many lower ranked teams don't make it into the tournament very often and have the tenacity to try to become the next Cinderella story.
Teams want every advantage at their disposal when going into the tournament, and having a closer first-round site can be incredibly beneficial both physically and psychologically.
The NCAA Selection Committee claims to give geographic preference to the top seeds in order of their rank - one seeds get the highest preference, then two seeds, then three, then four (remaining seeds are not given explicit geographic considerations).