ESPN’s bracketology efforts are focused on projecting the NCAA tournament field, just like we expect the NCAA Division I basketball committee to select the field in March. ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme uses the same data points preferred by the committee in his projections, including strength of the schedule and other seasonal indicators, including the NET and team sheet data available to those of the NCAA. Visit the NCAA website to find out more NCAA selection criteria.
64 team bracket
The 64-team bracket is the standard version of the NCAA tournament field that has existed since 1994. If the field consists of 64 teams in 2021, however, there are some key differences from previous years.
The primary adjustment from a normal year is of course playing the entire NCAA tournament in one place. This eliminates geographic considerations when sowing. Additionally, there will be at least one less automatic qualifier this season as the Ivy League’s decision to forego the 2020-21 season reduces the number of AQ entries for this season to 31.
48 team bracket
In this projection, an abbreviated selection process would reduce the field by eight large teams and eight automatic qualifiers (the latter still receiving a unit of revenue). The top four seeds in each region would be passed in the second round with four games in the first round per region – 5 against 12, 6 against 11, 7 against 10, and 8 against 9.
In this projection, the committee selects and fixes the 16 best available teams. There are no automatic qualifiers, although all non-competing conference champions receive the designated revenue unit.
To maintain some degree of national balance, conference attendance is limited to four teams. And no region can have more than one team from the same conference.