March Madness 2024 is right around the corner and the expected winners are anyone’s guess. What’s the first order of business? Determining the March Madness seeds.

Seeding always seems like a convoluted process -- suits in boardrooms decide the fates of teams that have poured blood, sweat, and tears all season into what seems like a random assignment. However, the process is more complicated than one may think and involves hours of deliberation.

So, what are seeds? How many seeds are there? Who picks the NCAA seeds?

What are seeds in March Madness?

What does seed mean in March Madness? How many seeds are there in March Madness?

There are 68 schools selected for each NCAA March Madness tournament, including the “First Four” games which trim the field to 64. The teams are split up into four regions and groups of 16. In each region, the 1-seed plays the 16-seed, the 2-seed plays the 15-seed, and so forth.

The winners of each region meet in the Final Four.

The 68 seeds selected are not necessarily the best 68 teams in the country. Many teams receive “at large” bids, which guarantee smaller NCAA conferences at least one representative in the tournament.

NCAA Tournament seeding rules

NCAA tournament seeds are not as simple as just slotting the best teams into the highest seeds -- a bit more alchemy is involved. For example:

  • Teams that have faced each other twice in the regular season (same conference) cannot meet until the Sweet 16
  • Teams that have faced each other three times in the regular season (same conference) cannot meet until the Elite 8
  • Teams from the same conference who only played once in the regular season can meet in the second round
  • First Four teams will all be placed in different regions
  • Regions are meant to keep teams as close to their campus as logistically possible
  • A team cannot play in an arena where they have played at least three regular season games (and thus cannot play at their home arena)

Therefore, teams may move up or down a few slots from their “true” seed.

How is the NCAA tournament seeded?

March Madness seeding is conducted by a committee: the NCAA D1 men’s basketball committee for the men’s tournament, and the NCAA D1 women’s committee for the women’s tournament.

Conference winners make the initial bracket alongside the 36 best “at-large” teams remaining. Through a few rounds of voting and re-voting, the committee narrows down a large list of suggested teams into a field of 68.

The results of the committee emerge on Selection Sunday, which is Sunday, March 17, 2024.

Read more about the minutiae of the process on the official NCAA site.

NCAA Tournament Selection Committee members

Here are the 12 NCAA Tournament selection committee members:

  • Scott Barnes (AD, Oregon State)
  • Renee Baumgartner (AD, Santa Clara)
  • Grey Byrne (AD, Alabama)
  • Barry Collier (AD, Butler)
  • Mark Coyle (AD, Minnesota)
  • Bubba Cunningham (AD, North Carolina)
  • Keith Gill (Commissioner, Sun Belt)
  • Arthur Johnson (AD, Temple)
  • Charles McClelland (Commissioner, SWAC)
  • Martin Newton (AD, Samford)
  • Jamie Pollard (AD, Iowa State)
  • Tom Wistrcil (Commissioner, Big Sky)

Committee members serve five-year terms.

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