The Division I Men's Basketball Committee announced changes to the NCAA Tournament selection process on Thursday that will allow for it to maintain fair matchups while dealing with increased conference size.
The major change announced concerns how soon teams from the same conference can play one another in the tournament. Previously, teams from the same conference could not meet before the Elite 8 unless that league had sent nine or more teams to the Big Dance.
Under the new rules, teams from the same conference that played only once during the season can now face each other as early as the third round (round of 32) of the tournament. Teams from the same conference that met twice during the season cannot square off until the Sweet 16, and league brethren that met three times during the season can't square off again until the regional finals.
Previously, the NCAA's rules dictated that the top three teams from each conference had to be placed in different regions. Under the new rules, however, the top four teams from a conference will be placed in separate regions only if they are seeded among the top four lines. Below the top four lines, the separation rule will no longer apply.
"As part of our mission, this committee will always try to improve the process," Ron Wellman, chair of the Selection Committee said in a release. "We believe these changes do just that."