Players jump for the tip-off during the third round game of the South Regional.

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Pods and Seeds

Talking about the NCAA basketball tournament can sometimes sound like a conversation about gardening. Like gardens, the tournament includes pods and seeds. Seeds refer to the placement of a team in one of four regions, and pods refer to the method of grouping seeds at particular first-round and second-round sites. The same committee that selects teams for the tournament also decides how teams are seeded and where they play.

As you learned earlier, the field of teams is divided into four geographical regions. Each region has between 16 and 18 teams, which are assigned a seed number of 1 through 18, with the best team in the region awarded the No. 1 seed. In 2012, the format was modified so the four first-round matchups advanced two 16 seeds, a 14 and a 12 into the field of 64.

Traditionally, the highest seeds (Nos. 1 through 8) have enjoyed more success than the lower seeds (Nos. 9 through 16). The lower seeds represent potential "Cinderellas" of the tournament. A Cinderella team is a team that unexpectedly achieves success in the tournament. Traditionally, Cinderella's chariot turns back into a pumpkin before getting to the Final Four. On the other hand, four Cinderellas have made the men's Final Four in recent years: VCU, George Mason, Butler and Wichita State.