Advertising it as "March Madness is coming early this season," the NCAA and CBS announced this week that for the first time, fans will get a glimpse of the state of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee's mind before the actual bracket is released on Selection Sunday.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, CBS will host a 12:30 p.m. ET show called the "NCAA March Madness Bracket Preview." Over the course of 30 minutes, NCAA Men's Basketball Chair Mark Hollis will reveal the Committee's top 16 seeds as of that moment, and explain to the public what their thought process was.
"We are excited about giving the fans a glimpse to what the men's basketball committee is thinking at this point of the season, and creating a buzz as we look towards Selection Sunday," said Hollid. "It's important to recognize after this list has been released, there is still a significant portion of the regular season to be played and every league must stage its conference tournament. There's potential for quite a bit of movement until we do it for real March 12, but this early peek will give everyone insight as to where the committee stands as we hit the stretch run of the regular season."
I get that this is a day that many college basketball diehards had been fearing for some time because it will tarnish the sanctity of Selection Sunday, but it's also hard to fault the powers that be at CBS and the NCAA here.
College basketball has this mammoth event that pulls in ridiculous numbers every March, but struggles to attract enough attention in the preceding months. The higher-ups who control the sport see us absolutely eating up the College Football Playoff rankings on a weekly basis, despite the fact that they have no real value. In their eyes, that's a no-brainer.
The only really sad thing about this is that it's likely the first step of a few that eventually results in us being significantly less surprised on Selection Sunday than we're used to being. At the same time, if the reaction to a weekly look at the Committee's collective mind leads to a more fair and overall better NCAA Tournament bracket, then maybe there can be more value here than there is on the college football side of things.