March Madness, one of the great unifiers of sports fans from all over, was cancelled Thursday (see story) amidst growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To fans, the news meant no brackets, no first-round upsets, and no One Shining Moment, mainstays of every March and April.
There might, however, be a very, very thin silver lining. The games won't be played, but the NCAA is at least considering releasing the 68-team bracket anyway.
NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports on Friday that the NCAA has received interest from coaches and athletic directors in the releasing of a bracket, despite the tournament's cancellation.
"There was some discussion about it; I'd say substantially," Gavitt said, per CBS, though he also mentioned that the idea is "practically speaking (...) a bit challenging at this moment."
Some coaches are likely pushing for a bracket release because of incentives in their contracts that reward them for making the NCAA tournament. Others probably want to reward their players for exceptional seasons.
Just look how broken up Jay Wright was yesterday (see story), thinking about his players not getting a shot at a title run:
Jay Wright said they knew this was a possibility in the NCAA Tournament when the Ivy League and others cancelled tourneys and banned fans pic.twitter.com/rTwMn3jrkF— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 11, 2020
I know that, on top of athletic departments and coaches, plenty of fans would also like to see the brackets unveiled. What if you're a Rutgers men's basketball fan, awaiting the possibility of your program's first berth since the 90s? Or if you're a Drexel women's basketball fan, eager to return to the big dance after winning your conference this season?
Brackets hold such a huge place in our collective sports conscience because we get to check them, one game at a time, in real time. The impact is significantly lessened by the games not being played.
But that doesn't mean we wouldn't still enjoy filling them out - and taking advantage of no consequences to pick a truly, exceptionally weird bracket. Go wild: you can't get these picks wrong. It would encapsulate the spirit of March Madness, which is certainly better than nothing as we wait for life to return to normal.
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