Selection Sunday in basketball is what officially marks the start of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (March Madness). On Selection Sunday the selection committee selects the field that will compete in the upcoming march madness tournament. The date of the event changes from year to year, but it is always the last Sunday before the tournament games begin.
On this day, the selection committee finalizes its vote for the 36 at-large teams and the final bracket of 68 is broadcasted on television.
One way CBS, the broadcaster of Selection Sunday makes the show more entertaining for its viewers is by broadcasting the reactions of teams. Seeing a team lose it after hearing their name called makes for good television. Even the capturing of heartbreak for a team that did not make the field makes the viewer feel for them.
While the television spectacle has been a recent development, Selection Sunday has always been about the bracket being released. With the bracket comes several important pieces that fans are looking for.
The bracket that is released contains teams separated into four different quadrants, with each having 16 teams. Those 16 teams are seeded from 1 to 16. Each seeding matters as higher seeds get to play lower seeds as well as play close to their home stadium.
On Selection Sunday, the bracket is released with 68 teams in it, however the four teams must be eliminated before the tournament really begins. How that happens is eight teams compete for the four spots in a win and you're in type format. The eight teams are announced with the rest of the bracket during Selection Sunday.
After the 68 team field is finalized, the selection committee also releases a list of the "first four out". These are the four highest ranked teams that did not make the cut, and they are listed in order of how close they were to making the tournament. They are then given a one seed in the NIT, which also has its field released on Selection Sunday.