For the past four weeks, college football has owned Tuesday nights on twitter and on television as the NCAA has started releasing weekly the rankings that will be used to seed the four-team playoff that will determine this year’s college football national champion.
The people in charge of the NCAA tournament certainly noticed the buzz surrounding that Tuesday night announcement, as the Division I men’s basketball committee will be giving serious thought to doing something similar.
“We did talk about it and certainly have been monitoring what the football committee has been doing,” Dan Gavitt, the vice president of the NCAA tournament, told Nicole Auerbach of USA Today. “Even going back to last year, before football started doing what they’re doing, we had some ideas of possibly taking more steps with what I think has been a real good effort over the years in transparency in the process — additional things we could do in that regard, but also possibly take advantage, as the football committee has, of the promotional/marketing value of that as well.”
I get it. Gavitt is only doing his job here. It would be irresponsible if he didn’t do his due diligence regarding a weekly Bracket Reveal of some sort (according to Auerbach’s report, they’re considering revealing weekly No. 1 seeds or to four seeds, not the entire bracket) with the amount of intrigue surrounding the football side of things.
I also think it would be foolish in the committee decides that they are going to do anything to corrupt the perfection that is March Madness.
It seems like every season, more and more people jump on the bandwagon saying that college basketball has to do something to fix their regular season. We get two-thirds of the way through the year before it becomes the No. 1 topic for debate — thanks, football — and certainly doesn’t have any favors done by the fact that finals and winter break all happen smack dab in the middle of the year.
I understand the desire to make college basketball trend on twitter on random weekday nights, or to get news items involving the sport as the lead on Sportscenter, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of anything even remotely related to the NCAA tournament.
No sporting event — save for the World Cup — dominates the sports landscape like the NCAA tournament does in the month of March. Everyone watches, everyone cares, everyone has a rooting interest, and that all has to do with the fact that everyone has a bracket. You can sit down next to anyone at a bar and have a conversation about who is going to make the Final Four. You can rub it in your boss’s face when you called the upset of a team he had making the Elite 8. People skip out on work and stream in on their iPhones at their cubicle because they want to know if they have a shot at winning the money in their pool.
And all of that intrigue starts with the Selection Show, which is one of the few things on television that simply must be watched live. Nothing should ever mess with the dominance that college hoops has from 6:00 p.m. ET on Selection Sunday until right around midnight ET on that second Monday in April, and revealing anything concrete about the bracket — removing any of the doubt and excitement and anticipation that goes into being a fan on that day — would only hurt the best thing that college basketball has going for it.
So please, Dan Gavitt, do everything you can to help make college basketball’s regular season something that matters to the casual sports earlier than mid-February.
Just don’t hurt the NCAA tournament in the process.