Primer on ‘First Four’ and a new tourney TV schedule


The NCAA seeding committee wasn’t the only one dealing with the logistics of a 68-team tournament.

Just think of the guy who runs your bracket pool. Or the people at TV Guide.

Three extra teams in the field created the need for additional games, which will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. People essentially ignored the play-in game since it was established in 2001, but that’s tougher to do when eight teams play before everything gets going on Thursday morning.

(Click here for more on how the NCAA’s guidelines for choosing the “First Four.”)

Do you force people to turn in their brackets days earlier? Or simply omit Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games from the tournament pool?

Most are going with option two.

That covers our tournament game, Yahoo!’s, ESPN’s and’s.

“We want to make sure we’re giving people as much time to fill out their brackets as possible,” Jason Waram, ESPN’s vice president for fantasy games and social media, told the N.Y. Times, “and we think leaving it the way it was is the best way to do that.”

It also applies to many of the private pools out there. People like to wait to until the final moment to submit their picks. That’s always meant Thursday morning. Switching to an earlier submission would just be asking for irate game players. Matt Kornguth, who runs a bracket hosting site called, said users did not want to change from a Thursday morning deadline.

“For people who’ve been running their pool for a long time, any kind of change is difficult,” Kornguth said. “And trying to communicate the changes to the pool members can be problematic.”

The NCAA’s is one of the few I’ve come across that asks for picks by Tuesday. Be sure to check the guy or girl who runs your pool. You might have to turn it in early.

The next issue? Finding out what channel the games are on.

ESPN used to air the play-in game, but the new CBS/Turner Sports agreement will spread the games out on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV. Yes, truTV. (The “First Four” will be shown on truTV.)

If it sounds like a channel-flipping nightmare, you’re not completely wrong. There’s a full schedule here, which shows that all four channels will have four games each the first two days. As the tournament progresses, the games are increasingly shown only on CBS, including the Final Four.

If there’s a bright side to the multiple channels, it’s that you’ll supposedly be able to watch the ending of every game thanks to staggered TV times. Of course, you could just watch every game online.

Just make sure you get those picks turned in or you’ll be too mad to watch the games.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.