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Reforming the Tourney, Part 2 - Making Both the Regular Season and Conference Tournaments Meaningful

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at what the NCAA tournament would have looked like had selection focused solely on the regular season conference champions or auto bid winners.  In this new--yet slightly unplanned--entry, I'm going to combine these two brackets into a larger "field of champions."

The inspiration for this bracket is a rule that existed in college hockey for a few years, the Colorado College rule.  From the 1995-2000, NCAA hockey tournaments, if a conference had different regular season and tournament winners, both teams qualified.  This was the result of Colorado State winning the WCHA regular season crown, but being passed over for an at-large bid.  For these six tournaments, only 12 teams qualified for the field and there were only four conferences who had auto bids, so this wasn't a terribly huge problem.  

Given that 31 conferences have the right to automatic qualification to the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship and the real world field has only 65 slots overall, potentially 61 teams could make their way into the field via an auto bid if the Men's Basketball Committee ever implemented a "Davidson College rule" (as I'm calling it for basketball).  Remember, the Ivy League would only get one team in, unless they started a tourney to get a second entry.

But, since this series isn't about reality, but rather, the sane and crazy reforms that could be implemented for the tournament, I'm giving the Davidson College rule a try. Here's how the field breaks down:

  • 31 regular season conference champions (Defending NCAA champion Kansas falls within this group.)  Ties are not accounted for, nor are divisions. 
  • 13 teams who didn't win their league's regular season title, but won the conference tournament.
This gives us 44 teams, enough for four regions of 11 teams apiece.  Chicago State, the tournament-eligible Independent with the best record, therefore falls out of this bracket after appearing in the Regular Season-Champions Only Bracket to even things out.

Since there are 11 teams in each region, the top five teams in each quarter of the bracket receive byes to the second round.  However, since there are only three first round games in each region, up to two sites may not get a full set of first and second round action.  In this bracket, Miami only gets two second round games, since they are the last site available for team assignments.

This bracket is a little closer to what we're used to in terms of seeding, as there are a few more teams from BCS conferences involved, and they take up the majority of first-round byes.  Again, since there are fewer moving parts when a maximum of two teams are invited from a conference, I attempted to keep teams as close to their natural regions as possible, while keeping higher seeds protected at the same time.

In my next bracket, I'll move away from auto bids, far away from them.