Good Question: Why does the NCAA Tournament start with a 68-team field?
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Even if the Cats are out of the tournament, we are still in the middle of March Madness.
One viewer had a question about why there are so many teams selected to play.
For today’s Good Question, Steve asks, Why does the NCAA Tournament start with a 68-team field and have the extra playoff games? Why not just select 64?
The field for the NCAA Tournament has grown quite a bit since 1939 when eight teams played for the championship. In 1951, the field doubled to 16, it kept growing, and by 1985, the 64-team tournament was in place.
When the Mountain West Conference joined Division I, their champion got an automatic bid, and the number of teams in the tournament was expanded to 65 so they didn’t have to reduce the number of at-large bids. That single play-in game was added in 2001.
In 2011, three more at-large bids were added, bringing us to 68 teams and creating what is now known as the First Four, the four games played before the first round.
This year, those winning teams were Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Pittsburgh, Arizona State, and Fairleigh Dickinson University, who were only the second number 16 seed ever to beat a number 1 when FDU took down Purdue.
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