March Madness tournament

Matthew Balsinger
Sports Editor

As March quickly approaches, the possibility of an NCAA tournament bid for Akron is reaching exciting levels. There are some fans out there, however, who don’t know how the NCAA tournament works, or how teams are selected. Since the Zips have a good chance of getting a tournament nod, it’s important for all fans to understand the tournament process.

March Madness is the term affectionately given to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. There are 64 teams broken up into four brackets: North, South, East and West. Each bracket has 16 teams, which are spread throughout the bracket. The No. 1 seeded team is put up against the No. 16 seed, No. 2 seed against the No. 15 seed, and so on until all teams are placed on the bracket.

Tournament style play is easy to understand, considering most of us have probably participated in some type of tournament in our lives. The most difficult part of March Madness to understand is how the teams are seeded into the tournament in the
first place.

Of the 68 teams, 31 get automatic bids by winning their conference title. For instance, in 2012, the Ohio Bobcats defeated the Akron Zips in the MAC tournament and thus received an automatic bid.

The remaining 37 teams are determined by a committee of 10 people and will receive what is called an “at-large” bid.

It’s often difficult to determine which teams will be selected by the committee, but usually they come from the top conferences. This is
where the Associated Press (AP) polls become very important.

Throughout the year, you may hear that a team is No. 2 or No. 25 in the nation. This stands for the team’s ranking in the most recent poll conducted by the AP. Each week during the season, the AP conducts a poll amongst its members to rank what they believe to be the top 25 teams. Teams receive points based upon where they sit in each ranking: 25 points for the No. 1 spot down to one point for the No. 25 spot.

As a rule of thumb, the top 25 teams in the AP poll will receive an at-large bid into the tournament. But what does all this mean for the Akron Zips?

Simply put, Mid-American Conference teams’ only chance of getting into the NCAA tournament is to win the conference championship. Since the conference began basketball play in 1980, it has yet to receive any at-large bids.

This means that Akron’s best chance to enter the NCAA tournament is to win the conference championship. There is still a slim chance, however, for Akron to receive an at-large bid if they win the remaining games in the season. If the Akron Zips can receive an AP top-25 ranking, there may be a good chance that they will not have to rely on a conference championship in order to enter the tournament
this year.