- Joe Lunardi, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
Division I Men's Basketball Committee chair Ron Wellman announced changes Thursday afternoon to the current bracketing process. Let's take a look at those changes, effective in March 2014, and whether they are going to help or hurt the formation of the tournament bracket.
• There will be 36 at-large teams and 32 automatic qualifiers next year. These changes grant an automatic bid to the champion of the new American Athletic Conference (AAC) and decrease the at-large field by one.
Lunardi's take: This is a negligible and expected item, as the chances the first AAC champion would not be good enough for an at-large bid are remote. But expect some minor howling if there is a true upset winner of the first AAC tournament.
• Regular season rematches between conference members will be allowed based on the number of times the teams met prior to the tournament. If they met once, the teams can face each other again in the third round (Round of 32). If they met twice, a Sweet 16 rematch is permissible. If a third meeting occurred in their respective conference tournament, an NCAA rematch cannot occur until the regional finals (Elite Eight).
Lunardi's take: While it may be hard, at first, to keep track of who played who how many times, this is a logical move in both honoring the Committee's true seed list as well as -- potentially, at least -- keeping more teams closer to home via the pod system. With conference membership expanding in so many cases, too many teams have been moved from their true seed in recent years to accommodate others from multibid conferences (often to the detriment of the wrong party).
Joe Lunardi writes about what the new rule changes mean for future of the NCAA tournament. He believes the majority of the adjustments will help enhance the overall product.