For years, fans have speculated since preseason about the NCAA Tournament. Who will make the cut? Which teams are in the driver's seat for a big run? And of course, what teams are in consideration for a #1 seed? Well, according to a recent report, these may no longer be questions fans are forced to pose among them themselves.
First, the report:
Hoops committee considering releasing preliminary No. 1 seeds or top 4 in each region, per USAT. Would certainly garner huge interest.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 19, 2014
So, that's interesting. Obviously, we can't be sure of any specifics, since this is just an early report, but my guess is that the NCAA Committee is gauging interest about announcing this. The NCAA Tournament has sort of become an American pastime for college basketball fans - and non-fans alike - and any change always come with big reactions. If the Committee is going to make a change, they're not going to do it without evaluating the options.
Those options could range from a one week release midseason to a daily update on seedings. There's just no way to be sure. Still, there's a pretty logical place for this to end. My bet is that the NCAA Committee is hoping to create a weekly countdown similar to the College Football Rankings Countdown that happens on ESPN each week. Essentially, choose a day of the week, release the set of rankings, and provide an interview or too regarding the rankings and why certain teams ended up where they did.
There are pros and cons if the Committee does decide to pursue something like this. People would indeed gain a deeper understanding about the Committee's decisions, but it could also lead to over analysis and seedings based more upon reaction judgments than on season resumes. For instance, if you put rankings down on a piece of paper, you might be more inclined to simply adjust based on those rankings instead of truly evaluating a team's full resume. Essentially, later weeks in the season could become far more important than early weeks. It's all speculative, but we have seen it happen in college football and it could happen here.
However, even given these cons, this would still be the right move for college basketball. Whether fans and diehards acknowledge it or not, from a mainstream perspective, the college basketball season starts in late February and ends in early April. It's just the nature of the beast. March Madness rules everything.
I'm not trying to say the regular season doesn't matter - I am a die-hard after all - but it's also important to think about the sport overall and what's best from an overall perspective. One of the big problems with college basketball during its history has been a relatively slow start to the season. Teams are tarting to change this by scheduling better non-conference games, but it's still nothing like it is later in the year. You can certainly point to college football and the NFL having something to do with the perceived slow start, but that doesn't change the fact that the regular season is regarded by many as just the necessary part of the season to get through before the NCAA Tournament.
It's also important to acknowledge that this would pretty much be a move to copy off college football. College hoops will probably never be more popular than college football, but one thing people care about deeply in college football is the regular season. A huge part of this is a shortened season, but another part is the fact that people see the progress as part of a goal of getting into a big bowl game or the playoffs. The discussion and debate are always there. College basketball needs this.
Maybe I am overselling some of these narratives and criticisms about college basketball, but college football is literally in a constant argument about which teams are the best and deserve spots in the big games at the end of the season. Imagine a weekly discussion about college basketball's top teams. Look at just the beginning of this year. If we had weekly college basketball rankings, we would probably be hearing a debate about whether Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, or Wisconsin is the best team in the nation. My response would simply be: great. Get people talking. After all, what's so bad about keeping people interested?
There are going to be people who don't want constant chatter around college hoops, but by doing so, you are short selling the sport and it's potential. Why not keep college basketball in the national spotlight on a daily basis? If the Committee does decide to release weekly rankings, it would be the right move for college basketball.