TruTV will tip off the "First Four" of the 2011 version of March Madness.
The network will show the first four games, comprising the new opening round of the expanded NCAA Division I men's basketball championship and the new $10.8 billion, 14-year TV, digital and wireless rights pact with Turner Broadcasting and CBS.
Two of the first-round games will feature the last four at-large teams selected to the now 68-team tournament field, while the other two contests will pit teams ranked 65 through 68 on the overall seed list. The winners of the four games will advance to the second round.
This will mark the first time in tournament history that the last four at-large teams will be publicly disclosed.
The rest of the NCAA tournament TV schedule has not yet been revealed, according to a Turner Broadcasting officials. Under the new contract, all of the tournament games will be televised nationally by TruTV, TNT, TBS and CBS. Previously, the early-round games had been regionalized by CBS.
With the new rights deal, CBS and Turner will split coverage of the regional semifinal games, with the broadcast network providing coverage of the regional finals, as well as the Final Four, and the national championship game through 2015. Tipping in 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner with the Final Four and the title tilt, alternating every year between CBS and TBS.
Under the new tournament format, the winners of the two first-round games involving teams seeded 65 through 68 will advance to second-round play against number one-seeded teams.
The two at-large pairings will both occupy the seed line where they would normally be placed in the bracket, according to the NCAA.
The pairings could occupy different lines in the bracket. For example, one game may be played between two No. 10 seeds, while the other could feature a pair of No. 12 seeds. Winners of those games would advance to play their natural opponent on a 64-team bracket: the No. 10 seed would play a seventh-seeded team and a 12th-seeded team would meet a No. 5 seed.
Under the bracketing procedures, teams will continue to be assigned to the closest available geographic location while avoiding regular-season rematches and conference opponents.