Home Sport News NCAA Tournament S-Curve Explained: How March Madness Selection Committee Will Shape 2021 Support

NCAA Tournament S-Curve Explained: How March Madness Selection Committee Will Shape 2021 Support

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March Madness in 2021 may be the most precisely framed tournament in recent memory.

Maybe never.

This is because geography, at least in 2021, will not be a determining factor in how the selection committee places teams in specific regions; Since COVID-19 forced the entire NCAA tournament to take place in Indiana, the committee will now rely primarily on the S-curve to create its group of 68 teams.

The NCAA explained its decision to use the method in a Press release of January 15.

“As the committee discussed this topic, it became clear that the S-curve bracketing option made the most sense, given the unique circumstances in which this tournament will be played,” Dan said. Gavitt, senior vice president of NCAA basketball. “In a normal year, bracketing is done with the consideration of keeping as many teams as possible close to their campus, reducing team travel, and providing as many fans as possible to watch their favorite teams. participate in The Big Dance. But this year alone, with the entire tournament being played out in Indiana, the committee feels that this different approach is optimal.

But what exactly is the S-curve? Sporting News explained to you how it works and why it has not been the main tool of the selection committee in recent years:

AFTER: NCAA Selection Committee has no excuse for botching 2021 geography support

What is the S-curve in the NCAA tournament?

The S-Curve is a bracketing method that ranks each team in the NCAA tournament, numbered one through 68, and ranks them to reward the top teams along a particular starting line.

The four seeds 1 are ranked first, second, third and fourth; the four 2 seeds are ranked fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth and so on through the 16 seeds. Teams are then ranked and placed in their specific region using a snake pattern – think of a snake draft in fantasy football – making sure the best team from a particular bloodline plays the lower ranked team. from another lineage.

For example, the first seed 1 (No.1 overall) would play the lowest ranked 16th seed (No.64) in the first round, while the lowest seeded 1 (No.1) would play the lowest ranked 16th seed (No.64) in the first round. # 4 in total) would face the 16 strongest seeds (# 61). This methodology might not matter in previous rounds when there is a more pronounced disparity in talent, but it becomes more prevalent as the tournament progresses and the division narrows.

Here’s what that would look like for an entire tournament, not including the first four games. (For the purposes of this article, the regions will have the letters A, B, C and D; the official names of the regions have not yet been released).

Region A Region B Region C Region D
1-seeds 1 2 3 4
2 seeds 8 7 6 5
3 seeds 9 ten 11 12
4 seeds 16 15 14 13
5 seeds 17 18 19 20
6 seeds 24 23 22 21
7 seeds 25 26 27 28
8 seeds 32 31 30 29
9 seeds 33 34 35 36
10 seeds 40 39 38 37
11 seeds 41 42 43 44
12 seeds 48 47 46 45
13 seeds 49 50 51 52
14 seeds 56 55 54 53
15 seeds 57 58 59 60
16 seeds 64 63 62 61

This method isn’t just for 1 seeds, either. It ensures that every team with a chance to win the national championship has a sufficiently difficult path to the final, depending on their ranking. In the Elite Eight, for example, it’s the difference between a 2 seeded having to face the top seed versus the fourth best team.

Assuming the chalk wins in the first two rounds of the tournament, here’s what each region would look like before Sweet 16:

Region A

  • No. 1 overall seed (1 seed line)
  • N ° 8 seed overall (line with 2 seeds)
  • No. 9 seed aggregate (3 seed line)
  • N ° 16 in total (line with 4 seeds)

Region B

  • No. 2 overall seed (1 seed line)
  • N ° 7 seed overall (line with 2 seeds)
  • N ° 10 in total (line with 3 seeds)
  • No. 15 seed aggregate (line 4 seeds)

Region C

  • # 3 overall seed (1 seed line)
  • No. 6 overall seed (2 seed line)
  • N ° 11 seed overall (line with 3 seeds)
  • No. 14 global seed (line 4 seeds)

Region D

  • No. 4 overall seed (line 1 seed)
  • No. 5 overall seed (2 seed line)
  • No. 12 seed aggregate (3 seed line)
  • No. 13 aggregate seed (4 seed line)

Why doesn’t the selection committee always use the S-curve?

The selection committee Is use the S-curve each year. But, as Gavitt noted in the January 15 NCAA press release, that’s not the ultimate factor in how teams are bracketed; this distinction is a matter of geography. If the selection committee feels that a team would travel an unfair distance to play in a certain regional host city – as it does in most years – they will move that team along the starting line to ensure that ‘she has a more acceptable distance to cover.

A particularly glaring example of this took place in 2019, when the state of Michigan – the second strongest at 2 seeds, ranked sixth overall – was moved from the Midwest region to the Eastern region. The reason? The Spartans would have had to travel 711 miles from East Lansing, Mich., To Kansas City, Missouri, had he stayed in the Midwest; moving to the Eastern region, the team only had to travel 591 miles to Washington, DC

The committee saved the state of Michigan an additional 120 miles. It also forced the Spartans to face first-seeded Duke in the Elite Eight.

The move gave both teams a more difficult game earlier in the tournament, when their tournament standings should have resulted in an “easier” regional final. It cost fans the chance to see the two teams face off in the Final Four and, since the State of Michigan won, has pulled Duke Zion Williamson – by far the tournament’s biggest draw – off the field.

This won’t be a problem in 2021. The entire tournament will be held in Indiana, with the majority of games taking place in Indianapolis.

Exceptions to the S-curve

The S-curve will be the primary method of bracketing for the 2021 NCAA tournament, but the selection committee will consider several factors to reduce the number of regular-season rematch.

From the NCAA:

  • Each of the top four teams selected at a conference will be placed in different regions if they are ranked on the top four rows.
  • Teams from the same conference must not meet prior to the regional finals if they have faced each other three or more times during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.
  • Teams from the same conference must not meet prior to the regional semi-finals if they have met twice during the regular season, including the conference tournament.
  • Teams from the same conference may compete in the second round if they have not played more than once during the regular season, to include the conference tournament.
  • If possible, rematch of non-conference regular season games should be avoided in the first four and the first round.



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