ESPN’s bracketology efforts are focused on projecting the NCAA tournament field, as we expect the NCAA Division I basketball committee to select the field in March. ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme uses the same committee-favored data points, including schedule strength and other indicators for the entire season, including NET and team sheet data similar to what is available to the NCAA, in his projections of the field. Visit the NCAA website to learn more about NCAA selection criteria.
64 team bracket
The 64-man group is the standard version of the NCAA tournament field, which has existed since 1994. When the 2021 field consists of 64 teams, however, there will be some key differences compared to previous years.
Of course, the primary adjustment from a normal year is playing the entire NCAA tournament in one place. This eliminates geographical considerations when seeding. Additionally, there will be at least one less automatic qualifier this season as the Ivy League’s decision to forego the 2020-21 season reduces the number of AQ participants to 31 for this season.
48 team bracket
In this extrapolation, an abbreviated selection process would reduce the field by eight at-large teams and eight automatic qualifiers (the latter of which still receive a unit of revenue). The four top seeds in each region would receive a bye to the second round, with four first-round matches per region – 5v12, 6v11, 7v10 and 8v9.
16 team bracket
In this projection, the committee selects and seed the top 16 available teams. There are no automatic qualifiers, although all non-competing conference champions will receive the designated unit of revenue.
To maintain a sense of national balance, conference attendance is limited to four teams. And no region may have more than one team from the same conference.
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