How March Madness Works

Decision Criteria

The committee is sequestered in a hotel during the selection process, not unlike a jury for an important court case. Members must weigh the evidence provided to them though certain criteria. During the selection process, each member must submit a list of teams that should, without a doubt, be in the tournament. This list cannot include the school that the member represents. If eight members put a team on their list, that team is put into the field of tournament teams.

Here are some of the criteria the selection committees rely on:

  • Rating Percentage Index (RPI) (For more information on RPI, go to
  • Ranking in national polls
  • Conference record
  • Road record
  • Wins versus ranked opponents
  • The way a team finishes the regular season

The selection committee also looks at an adjusted RPI. The adjustments take into account such factors as wins against highly ranked teams. This adjusted RPI isn't made public.

For those teams that aren't invited, there is no appeals process. The committee's decisions are final. The only conciliation for these teams is the possibility of playing in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), which invites another 32 teams for postseason play.

Now that you've learned how teams are selected, let's go to the next section and look at how teams are seeded by the committee.

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