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How are teams selected for March Madness

What’s the procedure for how the NCAA Tournament field is selected? We go over all the procedures here.

The Villanova Wildcats pose for a team picture in front of a NCAA Bracket after defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the championship game of the East regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at the TD Garden. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Week is nearly over, and many teams across the country are looking to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament to secure a bid to March Madness. Only 68 teams will make the big show, and here we break down how the selection process works ahead of the action.

The NCAA men’s basketball committee will determine what programs are best suited to make the field of 68 by taking their own observations, discussions with coaches and athletic directors, and comparing data. Let’s go over the three steps of the committee’s process.

How selection works

The selection committee is tasked with giving no more than 37 at-large bids (usually 36, but there’s no Ivy League automatic bid this year) to teams that didn’t become automatic qualifiers via winning a conference tournament. The ten members will gather in Indianapolis to fill out ballots listing all the schools that are eligible. They will then proceed to debate on what teams will make the cut. The top programs will enter the candidate pool first and be followed by less successful schools until there are 68 teams in the field.

After that, seeding will commence splitting the 68 teams into four competitive regions. No member of the committee will be permitted to be in the room when the conference or team they represent is discussed. An in-depth description of the selection process can be found on the NCAA’s official website.

Here is the Selection Committee for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Keep in mind the people in the room can’t discuss the school they represent, or the conference they represent, as those teams are being discussed by the rest of the committee.

Remember: All voting done by the committee is by secret ballot.

  • Mitch Barnhart, Committee Chair, Athletic Director, University of Kentucky
  • Mike Bobinski, Athletic Director, Purdue University
  • Tom Burnett, Commissioner, Southland Conference
  • Lawrence R. Cunningham, Athletic Director, University of North Carolina
  • Charles McClelland, Commissioner, Southwestern Athletic Conference
  • Bernadette McGlade, Commissioner, Atlantic 10 Conference
  • Michael O’Brien, Athletic Director, University of Toledo
  • Jamie Pollard, Athletic Director, Iowa State University
  • Chris Reynolds, Athletic Director, Bradley University
  • Craig Thompson, Commissioner, Mountain West Conference