Turns out the school I earned a degree from a lifetime ago made the round of 64, but not the round of 32. So, does that mean they were considered to be part of March Madness, or does a team have to make the round of 32 to be so considered?
That may have been the case back when there was one play-in game for a 16 seed. But now the play-in games are officially called the First Round. I assumed those teams were considered tournament teams and would benefit from tournament revenue sharing. But I could be wrong.
First of all, they’re not “play-in games,” and the NCAA goes to great pains to tell people that. “Play-ins” imply that the loser was never officially in the tournament, which was not the case in the days of 65 teams, much less now. When the tournament first went from 48 to 64, the NCAA choose something like six conferences and told them, “Your conference champion has to play another of the six conference champions in a ‘play-in’ game just before Selection Sunday”; those were the only actual “play-in” games (and were not part of the tournament itself).
If you count shares as “one per team in the tournament, and one per win except in the Final Four,” then originally winning that game did not earn a share; however, a few years later, the NCAA changed the policy so that the winner did earn a share for it, and, as Barkis notes, all eight of the “first four” teams earn a share for being in the tournament, and the four winners earn a share for their wins.
Note that all shares belong to the conference, not the team, and the conference keeps them (each share is good for six years) even if the team that earned them changes conferences. The one exception is when teams left the Big East to form the American; as far as the NCAA is concerned, the American is “just another name for the old Big East, the way Big West used to be the PCAA” and gets credit for the Big East shares earned before the split.