Look, I understand on a level why the NCAA would do this.
There’s a dead period in the Sports Calendar stretching from the Super Bowl to the start of the Conference Tournaments/March Madness. It’s occupied pretty half heartedly by semi-meaningful basketball and hockey, along with NBA All Star Weekend, the Trade Deadline, NFL Free Agency, and Pitchers & Catchers reporting.
There’s a void there – a void that the NCAA justifiably would like to fill with some extra buzz for March Madness. Once the Super Bowl fallout has died down, there’s little if anything for the sports media to dissect and, well, beat into the ground. That’s where these early rankings come in.
I get it.
But do we really need this?
Are there people out there dying to know the potential Top 4 Seeds from each conference on February 11th. This isn’t College Football where it has some type of bearing on the final outcome. By the time we reach March 12th that group of 16 won’t bear any type of resemblance to what we see on February 11th. Oh Kansas is set to play in the Northeast Bracket? Now they’re in the Southeast. Now they’re in the Midwest. Now they’re out. Now they’re a two seed in the West. There are too many teams and too many games left for this to mean ANYTHING on February 11th.
And if there’s anything in the world that doesn’t need more of a buildup, it’s March Madness. It’s the strongest institution we have in sports. NBA Finals, World Series, College Football Playoff. All of them are reliant on who’s playing. Even the Super Bowl hype depends on who’s involved.
March Madness doesn’t have that problem. March Madness is always March Madness, no matter who’s involved. Every single one of us will be parked on out couch from Thursday to Sunday of Opening Weekend regardless of who’s involved and certainly regardless of how prepared we are for the rankings. And everyone is still going to watch the Selection Show because the last teams in and the reactions of the mid-majors are significantly more interesting than the Top Four Seeds in each Region.
So yes, I get why it’s happening. I get the desire for more attention and the profits that come from selling ad space for this “Pre-Selection Selection Show” that the NCAA will continue to not distribute to the players who earn them all this money. And I’ll probably watch this thing because I’m a sucker like everyone else.
But there is absolutely nothing… I mean NOTHING worthwhile about telling us what region Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina might-potentially-but-probably-not-likely will play in on February 11th.
*I’m of the belief that the Sports Calendar starts with the Conference Tournaments/March Madness and ends with the Super Bowl. You kick things off with a stretch that includes March Madness, then MLB Opening Day, then the NBA/NHL Playoffs. And you finish things off with Football. And that whole month of February is basically the “Holiday Season” for Sports where Sports gets to sit on the couch and skirt responsibilities until the New Year like all of us.