When the NCAA expanded the Tourney in 2011, the “play-in” games, aka the First Four, were promoted as the Big Dance’s first round, despite being composed of only four No. 16 seed teams and four bubble teams. It moved the Round of 64, which up to that point had been traditionally recognized as the first round, to second round status. Expectedly, it left many confused and not too pleased with the change. Strangely though, in a rare occurrence, the NCAA committee seems to have acknowledge that they were wrong in changing the names of the early rounds and today voted to once again refer to the Round of 64 as the first round.

From ESPN:

The years rolled on. Each new tournament wiped more of the past away. Editors grew tired of snarky parentheticals in every mention. Resistance was less stubborn, then faded entirely. 

 

It was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. We won the victory over ourselves. We started calling the round of 64 the “second round.” 

 

And then, out of nowhere, we were rescued from this dark and terrible vision of the future by the least likely candidate: the NCAA itself.

 

That’s right. On Monday, Nov. 17, a day that will ring in the annals of American sporting history forevermore, the NCAA announced that its men’s basketball committee voted to rename the NCAA tournament’s rounds of 64 and 32 the “first” and “second” rounds, respectively. The committee could do nothing else for the next five years, and we will one day look back on 2014-2019 as one of the most productive and successful eras in its history. I’m only half-joking.

 

For those of you in need of background: Since 2011, the NCAA has called the rounds of 64 and 32 the “second” and “third” rounds of the NCAA tournament. Why? The First Four. The NCAA expanded the event to eight teams in 2011, comprising four No. 16 seeds and four higher-profile bubble teams. The NCAA wanted to promote the event as an actual part of the tournament, one not to be missed. It also wanted to be nice to the teams involved; no one gets excited about being part of a “play-in.” So it called the First Four the first round. The Round of 64 would be the second round, and so on. 

And as for the Men’s Tourney sites for 2016, 2017, and 2018 — which includes the first two rounds of 2016 at Barclays Center and the East Regional of 2017 at MSG — they go as follow: