First Four

Definition: Starting with the 2011 tournament, 68 teams will be invited to participate in March Madness - up from 65 in previous years. To accommodate the additional competitors, a new round of games will be added at the start of the tournament. This new first round has been dubbed the "First Four."

First Four Format

In the 65-team March Madness format, the two lowest-seeded teams -- usually the champions of two very small conferences -- would meet on the Tuesday after Selection Sunday, with the winner advancing to play one of the tournament's top seeds.
In 2010, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop faced off in the opening round, and the UAPB Golden Lions advanced to face eventual national champion Duke in the first round.

Under the new format, the four lowest-seeded teams will play "First Four" games, with the winners advancing as sixteen seeds to play two of the top-seeded teams. The other two first four games will match up the last four teams to receive at-large bids.

As the last at-large teams tend to be lesser teams from major conferences, those games could feature schools with major national followings.

First Four Schedule

The inaugural "First Four" will be played at the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15 and 16, 2011. The games will tip off at 6:30 and 9 PM ET, and be broadcast on TruTV.