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Primer of NCAA Tournament First Four Games

The calendar has finally flipped to March, which can only mean one thing: The best time of the year in sports has finally arrived.

That’s right, it’s nearly March Madness time, with nonstop basketball games and bracket-busting upsets only a couple weeks away.

Primer of NCAA Tournament First Four Games
Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

But before we get into all the craziness of March Madness, making an absurd amount of brackets in hopes of one winning a competition with friends and placing a few NCAAB predictions along the way as well, there’s a bit of housekeeping we need to do first.

Though most may know the basic rules and regulations of the NCAA Tournament and how it all works, others may just be getting into college basketball for the first time, so it never hurts to explain a few things.

One of those first things some may be confused on is what is the NCAA First Four.

The First Four is what one may think of as the appetizer of the NCAA Tournament, kicking off the true madness and coming before the Round of 64.

After the teams are selected into the NCAA Tournament, they are all seeded No. 1 through 68 and placed into one of four regions. The eight lowest-seeded teams – the four lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers and the four lowest-seeded at-large teams – play in the March Madness play-in games.

At-large teams play against other at-large teams while the automatic qualifiers play against other automatic qualifiers in a single-elimination game, similar to the rest of the tournament, for the chance to advance to the Round of 64.

Whichever team wins the play-in game will advance to the Round of 64, with two entering as the 16-seed and playing the No. 1 seed in their respective bracket . The other two teams typically enter as a No. 11 seed and the winner will face the No. 6 seed, though the latter seeding is based on one’s season performance.

First Four teams who make it past the play-in have typically fared well in the tournament, with 2019 the only time a team from the First Four didn’t win a game from the 64-team bracket. At times, teams from the First Four have even made it to the Final Four, while some 16-seeds have busted a number of brackets with upsets of No. 1 teams.

Though the bracket isn’t out yet, don’t forget to keep that in mind when making your NCAA Basketball picks of potential upsets and how far some teams may go in the tournament.

 

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