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Boston College Basketball: NCAA Changes Selection Criteria For "First Four"

In the midst of all things football, it's a basketball change that may have teams talking.

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With the Big XII and ACC Media Days going on this week, much of the attention is on those who enjoyed their Monday prior to the spotlight to be shown on Tuesday. But it's the hardwood courts making a decision to its college selection process that will reverberate the most through its upcoming season.

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee announced tweaks in its bracketing procedure on Monday in an attempt to create better balance throughout its 68-team March Madness championship tournament. All 68 teams are now subjected to the full seeding evaluation, whereas previous attempts seeded the last four at-large teams into the bracket as the four teams competing in the so-called First Four first round.

The men's basketball committee selects and seeds the field by naming at-large teams in groups of four. Once done, the seeding process ranks the field 1-68, also in groups of four. The last four teams selected were previously sent to the first round games to be played in Dayton midweek prior to the first full weekend of tournament groupings. Now, the committee will send the four lowest-seeded at-large teams into the First Four after seeding.

While not immediately clear, this will create a ripple effect through the NCAA bracketing procedure. For example, last season saw Texas and UCLA seeded as #11 seeds without having to play in the First Four. But Ole Miss, BYU, Boise State, and Dayton all played in the First Four despite receiving #11 seeds as the last four teams chosen into the bracket. The committee is now reserving the right to put into place an evaluation system that could remove a team like Ole Miss in favor of UCLA from that First Four, which would have put the Bruins against BYU and Ole Miss into a Second Round matchup with SMU. UCLA eventually lost to Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen, while Ole Miss lost to Xavier in their first Round of 64 matchup.

Secondly, the NCAA Selection Committee is tweaking the system to allow for flexibility to move the best #2 seed from their best geographic region if it shares a region with the overall #1 seed. Last season, Wisconsin received the fourth #1 seed but were expected to receive a #2 seed. Geographically, that would have forced the Badgers into the Midwest Region alongisde overall #1 seed Kentucky. As the top-seeded #2 seed (essentially the #5 team in the nation), Wisconsin would have found itself with a substantially tougher road to the Final Four.

The committee, therefore, is adjusting its rules to give itself the flexibility to move a natural geographic seeding if that region shares with the #1 overall seed. It doesn't guarantee that the committee will remove a team from that setting, but it likely sets up a scenario where they will be able to at least avoid it.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years and if there's an impact on Boston College as the program continues to grow to its future. It'll also be interesting to see if the success or failures impact the selection process of other large tournament seeding procedures, such as the fields for baseball or men's soccer.