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Sunday, March 11, 2001

Picking brackets can be tricky

When filling out a field, don't forget S-curves, geography

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How do you determine a balanced and fair 65-team tournament bracket?

That's the question 10 men and 10 women faced while spending three days to produce the NCAA men's and women's basketball tourney fields.

The selection committees have been sequestered in an Indianapolis hotel since Thursday. They'll announce their selections on national television tonight.

The women's bracket will be announced at 4 p.m. on ESPN (cable channel 48). The men's selections will be on CBS (channels 5 and 13) at 5:30 p.m.

Rarely, if ever, has anyone ever predicted exactly how the 65-team fields will shape up.

Here's your opportunity, however.

By using the accompanying brackets, you can fill in the spaces and compare your selections to the final brackets.

Here are some of the principles you have to remember when placing teams:

If two teams on the S-curve are from the same geographic region, the higher seed gets preference.

No more than two conference teams may be assigned to one region. The two teams must not be seeded together in seeds Nos. 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16, nor in seeds No. 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15.

No more than one team from a conference may be seeded in the same grouping of four (Nos. 1-4, 5-8, etc.) in each region.

Add true seed numbers for each group of four, then for the entire bracket to ensure as much balance as possible.

A team may not play on a court where it played more than three regular-season games.

A host institution participating in the tournament shall not be scheduled to play on the same day competition is scheduled in its home arena.

And there are still more:

A school should not be moved more than one line from its true S-curve seed.

Should none of the top four seeds in a region be geographically compatible with that region, the committee will attempt to assign these top four seeds away from a site that may create a potential "home crowd" environment for their opponents.

Examine geography for possible switches to places as close to home as possible, but within the governing guidelines. Teams moved out of their natural area will be placed in the next closest region when possible.

Previous years' out-of-region assignments should be noted to prevent any team from being moved an inordinate number of times if possible.

Rematches of regular season games should be avoided in the first round.

Examine the past two tournament brackets in an attempt to avoid rematches of previous tournament games in the first and second rounds.

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