Given the turmoil of conference expansion, it's no surpriseÂ that the NCAA has made changes to the way that the tournament is seeded. So oneÂ big and probably smart change is allowing conference teams which only met onceÂ during the season meet in the tournament earlier than before, as early as theÂ third round.
Presumably, the NCAA is still counting the play-in games asÂ the first round, which would mean, for instance, that Duke could play State inÂ Greensboro in the round of 32 (assuming that the teams had only played onceÂ during the regular season of course). Top-rated teams from the same conferenceÂ could meet earlier, and in the same regional, too. But if the teams have playedÂ three times, then they can't meet until the regional championship.
It's not just the power conferences (Big 12 excluded) whichÂ have expanded to the point where a round-robin schedule is no longer possible.Â The C-USA is up to 16 and the A-10 is now at 13.
Of course, a lot of the old C-USA has moved up, with some nowÂ in the American, so the old C-USA it ain't what it used to be. But at least sixÂ conferences are in the same boat.Â Making adjustments is smart andÂ necessary.