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Publication Title

Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics






The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at-large selection process is a highly scrutinized system. A selection committee made up of ten members is asked to select teams based on guidelines set forth by the NCAA. However, committee members indicate that other factors are also considered. Due to the financial benefits associated with a tournament appearance, it is important to closely examine the committee’s decision making process in order to identify possible sources of bias, which may put some teams at a competitive disadvantage. The purpose of this study was to examine direct and indirect attributes of teams that finished in the RPI top 100 between 1999 and 2007 (N = 695) to provide a critical analysis of the selection process. The results of a logistic regression model suggested that most of the criticism received by the selection committee is unwarranted. Overall, previous selections matched most of the performance-based guidelines that are used by the selection committee. However, conference classification was a significant predictor of selection, and this may provide evidence of a major conference bias. Specific misclassifications were identified in the examination, which help to illuminate this bias. In summary, this study discusses the importance of critically analyzing the tournament selection process due to the financial implications of an at-large tournament invitation. The results of this investigation provide vital information that could be utilized by the NCAA to monitor and adjust the current selection process.


The Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIIA), a peer-reviewed, scholarly, open-access journal dedicated to encouraging, supporting, and disseminating interdisciplinary and interuniversity collaborative college-sport research.

Original Publication Citation

Shapiro, S. L., Drayer, J., Dwyer, B., & Morse, A. L. (2009). Punching a ticket to the big dance: A critical analysis of at-large selection into the NCAA division I men's basketball tournament. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics(2), 46-63.