Between Sunday night and Thursday morning, millions of NCAA Tournament brackets will be filled out. The Final Four predictions will be in, Cinderella teams will be chosen and the complaints and arguments about which teams should be dancing will drag on. But how is the field of 68 made in the first place?
That's where the selection committee comes in.
The NCAA Tournament selection committee has 10 members, comprised of athletic directors and conference commissioners throughout Division 1 college hoops. According to bracketography.com, each member serves a five-year term on the committee with one to three "old members rotating out and the same number rotating in every year." There are no more than two members representing each region at one time.
This year, there are four newcomers and two others who's term ends after the 2013 tournament. Click here to read more about each committee member. So when your team gets snubbed, these are the ones who pick the teams, determine the seeding and figure out where each will play.
The field of 68 includes 31 automatic bids (30 winners of the conference championships and the Ivy League champion) and 37 at-large selections. The selection process is all about those 37 at-large bids. It's a long process that takes five days for the committee to complete, per Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated.
In fact, the NCAA holds an annual mock selection committee at its headquarters in Indianapolis for 20 media members just to show how difficult it is and put certain myths about the process to rest.
"And one thing learned was that the committee’s work can go up in smoke with one half-court heave," Mike Waters of The Post-Standard wrote in February after participating in the exercise.
Seth Davis wrote after participating in the process back in 2011 that he couldn't fathom how difficult it would be to make a 96-team bracket. In 2010, the Associated Press reported that the NCAA appeared "to be on the verge of expanding" the field to 96.
"We had to really hold our noses as we put those last few teams into the field," Davis wrote. "I can't imagine the foul stench that would have enveloped the room if we tried to put in 28 more."