Selection Sunday is one of the best days in sports. But CBS Sports and Turner Sports seem determined to make it less fun.
This year, the NCAA March Madness Selection Show aired on TBS with a new format announced earlier this week. Instead of just giving us the information we want promptly, they made us sit through a dramatic reading of the 68 teams that are selected for the tournament.
Hosts Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson listed the automatic qualifiers before moving on to the at-large bids. Both lists were in alphabetical order, making for some super awkward situations where they’d have to remind you that L does, in fact, come before M — meaning Louisville was out.
As a bonus, some sort of technical issues made the audio extremely mismatched from the video for many viewers, giving the whole thing the feeling of a student film.
Also, a live studio audience? Unless Jim Boeheim is in that live studio audience when Syracuse isn’t announced, it’s so extra. I don’t need to hear one person ‘WOOOO’ when LIU-Brooklyn is announced, and I certainly don’t need to try and get a live studio audience pumped up about Pizza Hut. If there’s a studio audience, Chris Harrison better be telling me that this is going to be the most dramatic bracket reveal in Selection Sunday history.
Ernie Johnson was by far the best part of the entire thing, seeming as self-aware as Skynet as he made self deprecating jokes about Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith writing their picks on a big poster board being “compelling television”.
Revealing a list of the 68 teams selected in some other fashion than simply unveiling the bracket is messing with something that didn’t need to be messed with. It’s just so unnecessary. The most frustrating thing is that this isn’t that hard.
Let me help you, CBS.
Announce the bracket, region by region
Start with the four No. 1 seeds and the region they will head up. Then go in order. Any order really, it doesn’t matter a whole lot, but South, West, East, Midwest will keep teams matched up with how they’ll pair up in the Final Four.
Once you go through one region, top to bottom, you move to the next one. Do two, go to commercial, do the other two.
Talk to the Selection Committee chair
Bruce Rasmussen is the 2017-18 Committee chair and director of Athletics at Creighton. Bring him on via Skype to chat about why Syracuse was left out again. Ask him why Michigan State was put in Virginia’s bracket for the fourth time in five years. Talk about whether this year’s bubble actually was historically weak. Anything. Just get Bruce out there to chat for a hot second to answer for their selections.
Analyze each region
Now that everyone knows who is playing whom, get back to the bracket and do some analyzing. Which matchups stand out? How super-easy of a path did the committee give Duke this time? Which 12 seed is going to get that 12-5 upset? Any coaches playing mentors or mentees? Which team will be most affected by travel? Which pod is the best in terms of entertainment value?
Really, the options are limitless.
Use actual college basketball analysts
I know, this seems insane. Look, I love Charles Barkley. I think he’s hysterical, and he’s fun to watch. What I don’t need is Chuck blathering on about how he thinks Oklahoma is under-seeded at 10 seed because he has literally no idea that Trae Young and the Sooners are 8-10 in the Big 12 and lost seven of 10 to close the regular season.
I do love Ernie Johnson though. He should be on everything.
Make it one hour
You don’t need more than 60 minutes to do the things listed above. By all means, continue into a second hour of analysis and bringing coaches on for interviews and what not, but you should self-contain all of the relevant bracket info into the first hour. There’s absolutely no need for that to go any longer.
Honestly, this isn’t hard. It shouldn’t be hard. Ratings are the name of the game, but these tricks and unnecessary additions are not only annoying, but they invite Bracket Leak II: the redux.
Do us all a favor and just stop with this nonsense.