March Madness - Play-in game?

What’s the deal with the “play-in game”: the game played yesterday between Lehigh and Florida A&M, with the winner becoming the 64th team in the NCAA basketball tournament?

When did they start this (I’ve noticed it the last few years, but must’ve missed the memo)? And why? Why not just pick 64 teams, instead of 65?

The NCAA approved another conference whose champion would get an automatic invitation to the tourney, making 34 in all. Rather than bump one of the 31 at-large teams, they added the extra game.

The Final 128, coming your way soon!

This was the fourth one. Your previous winners were Northwestern State, Siena, and UNC Asheville.

In the mid 1980s, there were a few more play-in games but the field was smaller then.

The new conference which brought about the addition of the play-in game was the Mountain West Conference, which split off from the WAC before the 1999-2000 season.