What Is Selection Sunday In March Madness?

What Is Selection Sunday In March Madness

March Madness is college basketball’s premier tournament, and Selection Sunday is the day that kicks off the pageantry surrounding the tournament. During a televised event, the entire tournament bracket is revealed. Keep reading to find out how Selection Sunday works and how teams are seeded into the tournament bracket.

What Is Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday is the day that the process of choosing college basketball teams to compete in the annual NCAA Division I March Madness Tournament ends, and the teams, brackets, and seeds are revealed to the public via a live broadcast. Originally, only the men’s teams selected to compete were announced on Selection Sunday, but now both the men’s and women’s brackets are made public on Sunday. 

Teams will typically gather to watch the broadcast and wait to hear if they have made the cut to participate in the tournament. Selection Sunday is especially exciting for the public because the team announcements mean that fans can celebrate and start filling out their brackets to compete in family, local, and even national pools sponsored by major media networks. 

Qualifications for Selection

The 32 teams who win their conference tournament receive automatic bids to the March Madness Tournament. The 36 remaining teams chosen to participate in the tournament receive “at large bids” from the Selection Committee based on various factors and statistics.

Selection Committee

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, made up of 10 representatives from different conferences, compares wins and losses, conference strength, scoring margin, schedule difficulty, offensive and defensive efficiency, and game locations to choose the best teams as participants. There is no limit to the number of at-large bids given to teams in the same conference. 

There are safeguards in place to stop any potential conflict of interest during the selection process. For example, committee members have to leave the room while their own school is discussed, and they can only provide input on other colleges from their conference when asked directly. 

Brackets and Seeding

march madness round of 64

Initial seeding is decided using many of the same factors used in team selection. Teams who receive automatic bids by winning their tournament are not always seeded highly. This is because a team that has had an overall weak season may have had an uncharacteristic performance in their conference tournament. Some teams with automatic bids may also be ranked lower because their conference is historically weaker than others.

Ranking Teams

The teams are ranked from one to 68 and then grouped into four regions. The top four teams are all given a #1 seed, the fifth through eighth best teams are given a #2 seed and so on until each region has seeds from #1 to #16. Teams are seeded in groups of four because the March Madness bracket is divided into four regions: South, East, West, and Midwest.

Geographic Considerations

Geography used to be considered when placing teams in different regions on the bracket, but now the s-curve is used. The s-curve ensures that the four regions are equally strong by alternating the sub-rank of each seed group that is selected. Changes may be made after the s-curve has placed all the teams in order to prevent teams who have already played each other from meeting too early in the tournament. This is done because one of the most exciting parts of March Madness is seeing teams face off against other teams that they would rarely play during the regular season.

First Four Teams

The seeding for March Madness only goes from one to sixteen, for a total of 64 teams, even though the committee initially chooses and ranks 68 teams. The four lowest-ranked automatic bids compete for an entry spot in the bracket, and the four lowest at-large teams compete as well. Unlike the tournament bracket, the matchups for these four games are meant to be as balanced as possible. This round of the tournament is called the “First Four” because the four teams that win their matchups are added to the official first round of the tournament.

Public Interest

Fans take special interest in Selection Sunday because it is the day bracket pools open. After the official starting bracket is released, fans make predictions about the rest of the tournament by completing their own bracket before the first game. The name “Selection Sunday” is also in line with the tournament's other promotional names for important moments in the event, such as the “Sweet Sixteen” and “Elite Eight.”

The event is broadcast live, and avid fans may gather together to watch it on CBS or another CBS-sponsored platform, like Paramount+. Teams also gather together to watch the live reveals, and the Selection Show will cut to livestreams of teams celebrating receiving a bid. The show will also cut to livestreams of disappointed teams who did not receive a bid. Seeing the teams react in real time adds another layer of excitement for fans.


How does Selection Sunday work?

On Selection Sunday, the selection committee meets and discusses which teams should be invited to participate in the March Madness tournament, establishes seeding, and decides first-round matchups. Some teams will automatically qualify, but the remaining teams are selected by the committee based on many factors. After the committee finishes dividing the teams into regions and matchups, a live broadcast reveals the chosen teams and the initial bracket to the public.

What does Selection Sunday mean?

Selection Sunday is the day that teams are officially selected, seeded, placed, and announced for the March Madness tournament. This selection always takes place on a Sunday in early March. Participating teams are announced within the first 10 minutes of the live reveal, followed by matchups over the next 30 minutes. The term is also used for the day in December that College Football Bowl game participants are selected. 

Who makes up the March Madness Selection Committee?

The 10-member March Madness Selection Committee is made up of one member from each of the Power Five conferences, some members specifically chosen from the seven most successful non-Power Five conferences, and the remaining members from any of the 20 other conferences. All appointments last five years. Committee members must leave the room when their own school is discussed and may only speak about other schools from their conference when explicitly asked. This rule exists to prevent any potential conflict of interest during the selection process.