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Automatic bid is a term generally used to describe a bid or berth to a tournament, granted based on performance in prior competition, and not based on subjective picking (see: At-large bid). It is most commonly used in the United States in the Men's and Women's NCAA College Basketball Tournament, usually Division I, but is also used in all NCAA tournaments.
In Men's and Women's Division I college basketball, the teams that win their conference tournament are granted automatic berths to the main tournament. In the case of the Ivy League only, the team with the best record advances via automatic berth. Except for the Ivy League, all conferences in D-1(Division 1) basketball hold a conference tournament. Most D-1 schools are in a conference. The ones that are not, called Independents, have no conference tournament and can only advance to the NCAA Tournament via an at-large bid, which rarely happens unless the team performs well.
Similar automatic bid processes are used in other NCAA sports with a tournament. This allows a team with a losing record to qualify for the NCAA tournament based on winning the automatic bid via tournament.
Another post-season college basketball tournament, the NIT, includes the best teams that were left out of the NCAA Tournament. Since the 2005 purchase of the NIT by the NCAA, automatic bids are now awarded to all regular season conference champions who did not win their conference tournament.
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