How is the NCAA tournament seeded?


The 2023 NCAA Tournament brackets are set. 

Following Selection Sunday’s reveal, we now know how the brackets are arranged as 68 teams from each of the men’s and women’s tournaments will look to lift their respective national titles come early April.

In the men’s bracket, Alabama, Houston, Purdue and Kansas claimed hold of the No. 1 seed. Then in the women’s bracket, South Carolina, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Stanford penned their names as the four No. 1 seeds.

But just what are seeds and what do they mean in the context of the NCAA Tournament? Let’s take a look:

What is a seed in March Madness?

Each NCAA Tournament comprises 68 teams divided into four regions. After the First Four games to decide the last four teams in the tournament, that total trims to 64. 

The 16 teams in each region are then categorized by their seed, ranging from No. 1 to No. 16. The higher seed plays the lower seed (e.g. No. 1 vs. No. 16) as the tournament progresses.

What does a No. 1 seed mean in March Madness?

The teams with a No. 1 seed are typically the best in college basketball and are determined by a number of factors, preeminently regular-season record and conference tournament performance.

How many No. 1 seeds are in the NCAA Tournament?

In each of the men’s and women’s tournaments, there are four No. 1 seeds – one for each region.

What seed usually wins the NCAA Tournament?

Holding a No. 1 seed doesn’t always guarantee success. Upsets, matchups and injuries are among the possible factors that could derail a top seed’s success, no matter what they achieved en route to their potential loss. However, it’s more probable that one of the four No. 1 seeds wins it all than any other seed. 

On the men’s side, the No. 1 seed has hoisted the title 24 times, the most of any other seed. The second-highest mark is five, going to the No. 2 seed.

Then on the women’s side, the No. 1 seed has won the tournament a record 22 times. The second most is the No. 2 seed, with four titles. 

How is the field of 68 teams selected for March Madness?

There are two ways programs can earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The first is that 32 Division 1 conferences all earn an automatic bid if they win the postseason conference tournament. 

The second is receiving an invitation for an at-large bid. The selection committee – the group responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the NCAA tournament – decide which 36 teams that didn’t automatically qualify have the pedigree to earn a spot in the field.

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