Media Advisory: No fair! Top-seeded NCAA tournament teams favored by switch to pod system

Todd McFallSince adopting the pod system in 2002, the NCAA basketball tournament organizers have, more often than not, chosen to give first-round assignments that favor top-seeded teams — helping these more popular teams advance to the second and third rounds.

“Given the choice of creating a more equitable tournament and giving all fans a chance to see their teams play or helping fan favorites advance to the later stages of the tournament, the committee has chosen the latter over the former,” says sports economist Todd McFall who is an expert in tournament strategies. “Research shows that since the pod system was adopted highly-ranked teams have played closer to home more often than their lower-ranked opponents. The change started with the 2002 tournament, when the committee loosened rules on how first-round tournament games would be assigned.” In the ten tournaments since 2002, teams seeded in the top four of a region have had a chance to play in their home state on 31 occasions, while teams seeded in the bottom four have played only one in-state game. In comparison, in the 16 tournaments between 1986 and 2001, the top four seeds in a region played 30 first-round games in their home states, and the bottom four seeds played 17 such games. McFall found that between 1985 and 2001, top-four seeds advanced to the second round 81 percent of the time (winning 220 of 272 games) compared to between 2002-2011, when top-four seeds advanced 93 percent of the time (wining 148 of 160 games).


Kim McGrath,, 336.758.3209

Stephanie Skordas,, 336.758.3826

Categories: Media Advisory