Why are Teams Seeded in the NCAA Tournament?

In the NCAA Basketball Tournament, 65 teams compete for the National Championship. The teams are not placed into the tournament randomly, but each team is given a specific ranking, or seed.

The match-ups for each round are determined by the seeding of the winning teams. This method is used in almost all playoffs, and it is based on the strength of the participating players or teams. The goal is for the strongest teams to not have to face each other until the later rounds or finals.

NCAA Tournament Seeding

In the college basketball tournament, there are 65 teams, which is an unusual number in that it is an odd number. This is because the NCAA includes a “play-in” game, where two teams play to get into the final field of 64, which is a much more common number.

The NCAA divides the teams into four regions, and seeds each of the 16 teams in each region. In first game, the 16 seed (the lowest seed) plays the number one seed (the best team); and the fifteen team plays the number two seed. The match-ups continue in this manner, until number eight plays number nine.

The seedings continue into the next round. The winner of the 1-16 game plays the winner of the 8-9. If the stronger team wins each game, the pattern of the strongest team playing the weakest continues.

Upsets occur, where the weaker team wins, but, in the basketball tournament, the teams are not reseeded. If the number 16 seed wins (this hasn’t happened yet,) 16 would still play the eighth seed.

The Reason for Seeding Teams

If the strongest teams have the highest seed, it will be more like that will continue to beat weaker teams so that the best teams will meet in the finals. If there were no seeds, and the teams played each other at random, it is likely that two strong teams might face each other early.

If the two best teams faced each other in the first round, the rest of the rounds would be less interesting. The goal of a playoff is to bring the best teams together in the finals, after they have proved themselves on the court or field.

Seeds in Tennis and Football

In tennis tournaments like Wimbledon and the United States Open, some of the players receive seeds and others are unseeded. The reason is the same; to give the best players the best chance to reach the later rounds,

In the National Football League playoffs, twelve teams play. The two best teams in each conference are given byes, that is, they do not play in the first round, while the other teams play to narrow the number of teams, so that the best teams are given the best chance to reach the Super Bowl.

It is not necessary to have seeding in a tournament, but giving the best teams the highest seed makes it more likely there will be an exciting championship event.

Donald S. Cochran

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