Wanna cause a stir? Say at-large tourney bids ‘selected’ 24 hours before field announced

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The NCAA wasn’t kidding about the Selection Sunday process being more transparent.

When NCAA tournament seeding committee chairman Jeff Hathaway dropped this nugget during a CBS – “We have selected the 37 at large teams.” – it caused a stir among college hoops fans and writers on Twitter and message boards. The at-large field is completed?

But what about those teams still playing? What’s that mean for N.C. State and Ole Miss, two schools thoroughly on the bubble, but still playing in their conference tournaments? Sounds like the overall profile – and not any late wins – impress the committee far more. So, right now, they’ve pinpointed the 37 best teams who haven’t won their conference tournament. (They’re at work in the photo above, tweeted by Greg Shaheen.)

Not that the entire field is set. A later clarification from Greg Shaheen, the guy in charge of the tournament, indicated that at-large teams later become automatic qualifiers, opening up a few bids. It’s not final, but it’s close.

This isn’t new, either. The committee’s been at work selecting the field for the past four days and will continue working tonight and tomorrow. They don’t do it all in one big cram session on late Saturday night. That the at-larges would be chosen by now isn’t new. That the NCAA tells everyone they’re chosen is.

It’s all part of the plan to make the process appear more open.

Hathaway’s held teleconference to field questions about the field (he recently said Kentucky and Syracuse were locks as 1 seeds) and they’ve tried to engage the media in “nock” selections to make them aware of the work involved.

Of course, if they really wanted the process to be transparent, they could just embed a reporter in the room. I can think of about 500 volunteers for the job, too.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.