Each March when the NCAA Basketball bracket is revealed, we frequently hear about how team X ended up with a lower or higher seed because the Selection Committee had to avoid a match up with another team in their conference due to rules that prevent conference foes from facing each other until the later rounds of the event.
The new guidelines don't invoke a unilateral rule saying that teams in the same conference can't face each other until the x round. Instead, a tiered system is being implemented that is based on the number of times conference teams faced each other that season. If they played each other only once, they could face that team as early as the round of 32. If they played each other twice, they couldn't meet until the regional semifinals (aka Sweet 16) If they played three times that season, they wouldn't be allowed to face each other until the regional finals (Elite Eight).
"It is important we avoid the top teams from leagues receiving multiple bids to the tournament from playing one another when they are seeded in the first quadrant" said Ron Wellman, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Wake Forest, in the NCAA's announcement about the changes. "But after those first four lines are seeded, we want to remain as true to the seed lines as possible. Too often we have had to move teams up and down a line because we have been limited by our principles on teams from the same league. These changes will give us permissions we have not had previously."
Another change that was made involved teams who had faced each other in non-conference games during the season:
The committee also altered an additional consideration for rematches of non-conference regular-season games. Those will be avoided in the First Four and in the second round, if possible. To give itself even more flexibility, the committee may relax any principle in the event that two or more teams from the same league are among the last four at-large teams selected to the field and thus will participate in the First Four.
With conference expansion pushing college athletics towards super conferences, a solution like this was becoming increasingly necessary. This should hopefully afford the committee the ability to have a more "true" seeding of team in the tournament. I'm looking forward to this being a relevant issue for Maryland's men's basketball this season and into the future.