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Understanding the NCAA Tournament committee's quadrant system for creating the bracket

College basketball selection committee using new method to determine seeding

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is using a new quadrant system to place teams in the bracket. (WDIV)
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is using a new quadrant system to place teams in the bracket. (WDIV) (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The NCAA Tournament has long been one of the greatest postseason formats in sports, but the selection process is also the most complicated.

In the past, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee used categories such as RPI, strength of schedule and arbitrary tiers -- top 50 wins, top 100 wins, top 150 wins, etc. -- to rank team resumes.

But now, there's a new arbitrary category system, and it attempts to capture college basketball's unique home-court advantage.

Playing at home is an advantage in every sport, but none more so than college basketball. Take the two games between Xavier and Butler, for example. The teams have played twice this season, about a month apart, with Butler unranked and Xavier ranked fifth in the country.

On Xavier's home court, the No. 5 Musketeers were favored by 6.5 points, but at Hinkle Fieldhouse, they were five-point underdogs. Though Xavier won both matchups (the road win coming in overtime), the 11.5-point difference in the game-time betting line shows how much home-court advantage matters.

As a result, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has ditched its old categories and implemented new quadrants.

What are the quadrants?

There are four quadrants that divide all 351 Division I teams.

The top quadrant is appropriately named Quadrant 1. Quadrant 1 consists of any home game played against teams ranked 1-30 in the RPI, any neutral site game against teams ranked 1-50 in the RIP and any true road game played against teams ranked 1-75 in the RPI.

[QUADRANT 1: Home games vs. RPI top 30, neutral games vs. RPI top 50, road games vs. RPI top 75]

Remember, the ranking of each team in the quadrants is determined by RPI, not the AP or coaches polls. If a team is ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll but No. 31 in the RPI, a home game against that team would not be a Quadrant 1 game.

Example: If Texas played a home game against the No. 26 team, a neutral site game against the No. 48 team and a road game against the No. 72 team, those would all be Quadrant 1 games.

Quadrant 2 picks up where Quadrant 1 left off, with more pre-selected cutoff points. Quadrant 2 consists of any home game against teams ranked 31-75 in the RPI, any neutral site game against teams ranked 51-100 in the RPI and any true road game against teams ranked 76-135 in the RPI.

[QUADRANT 2: Home games vs. RPI 31-75, neutral games vs. RPI 51-100, road games vs. RPI 76-135]

Example: If St. Bonaventure played a home game against the No. 52 team, a neutral site game against the No. 51 team, a neutral site game against the No. 94 team and a road game against the No. 128 team, those would all be Quadrant 2 games.

You'll notice there is some overlap in the quadrants. A team can play against the No. 60 team at home or on a neutral site, and it would be a Quadrant 2 game. A game against the No. 80 team would be a Quadrant 2 game on a neutral court or on the road.

When you get to Quadrant 3, you're starting to enter "bad loss" territory. Quadrant 3 consists of any home game against teams ranked 76-160 in the RPI, any neutral site game against teams ranked 101-200 in the RPI and any true road game against teams ranked 136-240 in the RPI.

[QUADRANT 3: Home games vs. RPI 76-160, neutral games vs. RPI 101-200, road games vs. RPI 136-240]

Example: If Bethune-Cookman University plays a home game against the No. 150 team, a neutral site game against the No. 190 team and a road game against the No. 239 team, those would all be Quadrant 3 games.

One major difference about the quadrant system is that the old tiers used teams ranked No. 201 and worse as the bottom category. In the new system, games against teams ranked 201-240 aren't in the lowest quadrant if they're played on the road.

The final category, Quadrant 4, is the rest of the pack. It consists of any home game against teams ranked 161-351 in the RPI, any neutral site game against teams ranked 201-351 in the RPI and any true road game against teams ranked 241-351 in the RPI.

[QUADRANT 4: Home games vs. RPI 161-351, neutral games vs. RPI 201-351, road games vs. RPI 241-351]

The total number of Division 1 college basketball teams changes almost yearly, as schools join and leave, so the number 351 will change accordingly if the quadrant system sticks. Essentially, Quadrant 4 consists of the games against the worst teams, and any loss in that quadrant is a major problem for NCAA Tournament hopefuls.

Games against non-Division I teams aren't taken into the calculation.


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