Once the NCAA announced that there would be no March Madness this season, along with the cancelation of other winter and spring sports due to the coronavirus, many across the country were immediately dejected.
There would be no pleasure of the annual tradition to sit down and fill out a bracket (or two).
A new report shows that the bracket may still go on. The NCAA is still considering releasing a 68-team bracket using the same criteria of evaluation, according to a report from CBS' Matt Norlander.
"We're hearing today there's interest from coaches and athletic directors from that," NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS. "I wouldn't say we've shut down the idea completely, but there is, practically speaking, it's a bit challenging at this moment. ... There's pluses and minuses to any decision. If you put the field together, you could have teams, depending on that conference's policy, would not be the most obvious choice as the [automatic qualifier]. It's something we're going to continue to look at."
The report only mentions the men's NCAA Tournament and does not mention the women's NCAA Tournament bracket. There is no word on if the NCAA chose to put together a bracket to have a Selection Sunday show or announce it in another manner.
Putting together a bracket would recognize the accomplishments and work of the thousands of student-athletes from the season. Many coaches, most notably Auburn's Bruce Pearl, called for the release of the bracket despite the cancelation of the tournament.
The report points to logistics concerns being the largest obstacle to the idea. All the selection committee members, many of them members of other conferences, have returned to their home operations. On top of distance, they also have to navigate the future of their leagues through the coronavirus outbreak.
Some of the bracketing process had begun, but nothing past the initial ballot from each member. Through that ballot, only 44 teams were confirmed into the 68-team tournament, some being automatic qualifiers. They would also have reach out to each conference that did not complete their postseason tournament and determine who would receive the league's automatic bid. Each conference is required to have a process of selection.
As pointed out in the report, putting together a bracket remotely through teleconference is certainly possible.
There would be multiple benefits to having a bracket reveal. Players would see all of their sacrifices result in the ultimate accomplishment of being able to play for a national championship. Seniors would be able to leave the school on a good note for their final season. Fan bases like Rutgers (who hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991) and Dayton (a projected No. 1 seed for the tournament) would get closure. Several coaches would also receive bonuses for making the tournament.
Nothing is for certain. Just a bracket can't entirely be ruled out just yet. It might not be as much 'March Sadness' as initially thought.
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