The Division III Men's Basketball Committee used its recent annual meeting to determine a format for an anticipated 58-team championship in 2006. The committee developed a plan that gives six institutions first-round byes into second-round games played on the first Saturday of the tournament.
With the number of teams in the bracket increasing by 10, which is expected to become official when the final sponsorship numbers of institutions is known in September, the committee debated ways to balance competitive-equity concerns with reducing the number of midweek games. Committee members see the latter as paramount to reducing missed class time as well.
With that in mind, the six teams receiving byes, assuming that their bids meet specifications, will host second-round games on Saturday. Twelve teams will play first-round games the previous Thursday to determine who will advance to the second-round contests hosted by the bye teams.
The remaining 40 teams will be placed in 10 four-team sites with games being conducted on Friday and Saturday.
Sectional play does not change, with play at four four-team sites on the second Friday-Saturday of the championship. Four teams advance to the finals site in Salem, Virginia, March 17-18.
Committee members conducted mock selections using the expanded bracket until they settled on a format to recommend to the Division III Championships Committee, which meets September 18-21 in Indianapolis.
The format is similar to those adopted for Division III women's basketball, women's soccer and men's soccer, which also are expanding championship brackets this year.
Expansion is occurring to meet the Championships Committee's established 1:6.5 ratio, meaning another team can be added to the bracket for every 6.5 institutions that sponsor a particular sport.
Beginning in January 2006, the Division III Men's Basketball Committee will start accepting bids from prospective hosts for the 2008 finals and beyond. The committee plans to make recommendations on those bids at its July 2006 meeting.