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NCAA to Offer Sneak Peek at Top Hoops Seeds

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USA TODAY

 

College basketball is a sport that too often gets relegated to one month's worth of relevance. Outside of March, it's hard to generate buzz that surpasses that of the NFL, NBA or even college football.

So count me among those who think the idea of a Selection Sunday preview show is a great one -- for all those invested in the sport.

The men's basketball selection committee announced Tuesday that it will reveal its in-season top 16 seeds (1-4 in each assigned region) during a CBS broadcast Feb.11 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The final bracket will be unveiled on Selection Sunday, March 12.

"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," committee chairman Mark Hollis said in a statement. "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."

This announcement follows three years of College Football Playoff in-season ranking shows that drew a ton of attention and outrage on a weekly basis. College basketball's power brokers -- rightfully -- did not replicate that, opting instead for a one-time preview of the four top seed lines.

It's something Dan Gavitt, the NCAA vice president of men's basketball championships, had discussed as a potential idea two years ago in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.

At the time, he pointed to a few pros (such as coaches having a better understanding of résumés to avoid so-called snubs or shockers on Selection Sunday) and cons (that the unveiling would include teams with incomplete résumés).

"Some of the reaction the last couple of years of teams being surprised where they were seeded ... that's where the thought process started for me," Gavitt said in 2014. "Are there things we can do that would better communicate what's the likeliness? Frankly, I didn't think there were a whole lot of very different seeds going in. There seemed to be consternation. If you were to do something along the way to be more transparent, maybe there would be a better understanding -- maybe not acceptance -- but an understanding that this didn't come out of left field."

Though it goes against the tradition of the committee announcing its bracket after every team has completed its season, it's clear the benefits outweigh the negatives. This one-time unveiling will create buzz for the sport just six days after the Super Bowl, a time when casual sports fans ought to be turning their attention to college basketball. It will get fans talking about Final Four and national championship contenders, and it will help them understand what criteria are most important when evaluating the season's best teams to that point.

And even if data points shift as résumés change over the final month of the season, fans should understand that. Unlike rankings put out on a weekly basis, such as college football's, it's harder to get boxed into a team being in a certain position or one piece of a résumé being emphasized over another.

College basketball has so many data points for each team and so many games that will be played over the final month that it lends itself well to a sneak preview -- that comes out more than halfway through a season -- and the understanding that seed lines could change depending on how teams (and their opponents) perform that final month.

Plus, it allows CBS and the selection committee to reap benefits from a cottage industry they have created -- bracketology. Almost every national sports outlet and some regional ones hire bracketologists to project the field throughout the season leading into Selection Sunday. Yet CBS and the people tasked with evaluating, seeding, scrubbing and bracketing the real field haven't had any of those pre-March eyeballs. Until now.

And I have no problem with that.

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January 25, 2017
 
 
 

 

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