truTV To Carry First 4 NCAA Tournament Games

The NCAA has tried to offer some balance for what effectively will be play-in games for March Madness. Next year, the tournament match-ups will become the initial sports events on truTV.

To whittle the field down to 64, two of the games will feature at-large teams, meaning some blue-chip names should be included to help draw viewers. The other two games will include upstarts, who will look to beat each other and then upset the best teams in the tournament in the next round.

The NCAA -- which has a new deal placing games on CBS along with Turner's truTV, TNT and TBS -- is expanding its field to 68. For over a decade, a single play-in game has been on ESPN, but has failed to generate much interest.

The NCAA is branding the initial games as the "First Four," while technically making them the tournament's first round. All four games will be on truTV for the next 14 years, likely taking place on the two nights before what has been traditionally been the debut round.

With the eight "First Four" teams and structure, the NCAA seems to have opted for a plan that looks to appease both the so-called power conferences and less high-profile schools. The tournament's last four at-large selections -- likely larger schools -- will play each other in one group.

The four lowest-seeded teams (65 through 68) that are presumably smaller schools will face off, and the winners will go on to play No. 1 seeds.



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