There will not be an NCAA Tournament this year. There are no live sports right now. The conference tournaments weren’t even completed, so we don’t even know who would have gotten the automatic bids and who would have played themselves on or off the bubble.
However, the NCAA may still indulge fans who are craving a bracket by releasing one anyway, according to comments made by Dan Gavitt to CBS Sports.
NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports on Friday that the NCAA has not yet completely killed the idea of putting together a 68-team bracket for the purposes of an official recognition of the 2019-20 men’s Division I basketball season. While far from a sure thing, it’s still on the table — offering hope to coaches and players across the country that they could at least potentially get formal recognition for the work they put into their seasons over the past five-plus months.
“We’re hearing today there’s interest from coaches and athletic directors from that,” Gavitt said. “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.
“This has been so fast, so emotional, we’ll continue to think on it a little bit.”
As for the likelihood of that, Gavitt admitted that creating and releasing the bracket this week in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus wasn’t exactly a priority from the selection committee (which is more than understandable).
“There was some discussion about it; I’d say substantially,” Gavitt said. “To put us into real time into what was going on yesterday: conference tournaments were being canceled, committee members were dealing with their own conferences and their own programs with where they were going and what decision they were making. All week there was a lot of distraction for everyone involved because of how rapidly all of this was evolving.”
Yes, it’s not going to actually *change *anything – the tournament isn’t going to be played at all – but releasing a bracket could help fans somewhat cope without college basketball dominating their lives through the end of the month. It could also inform coaches and players of how they were viewed by the selection committee, which could let them take *something* away from their season, aside from regular season conference titles.
“I understand both perspectives, first and foremost for the student-athletes knowing definitively where you are as an NCAA Tournament team, or a No. 1 seed,” Gavitt said. “Not based on other bracketologists, but based on the selection committee’s decision. That’s a big deal. It’s what they all play for and to have the kind of recognition and honor that comes with it.”
In other news, Ralph D. Russo of the AP reports that Gavitt told him the NCAA attempted to create a one weekend, 16-team tournament to “save” March Madness.
“We did spend a significant amount of time very late Wednesday night trying to figure out alternative models,” Gavitt said Friday.
The next morning, Gavitt presented the idea to the men’s basketball selection committee. He said the hope was to play games starting Thursday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The city had been scheduled to host the Final Four at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on April 4 and 6.
The idea was to have the selection committee choose the top 16 teams in the country, regardless of conference, to participate. The first three rounds would have been played Thursday-Saturday, with a championship game Monday night. Gavitt said he believes eight or nine of the 32 Division I conferences could have been represented.
“Far from ideal. Far from perfect,” Gavitt said. “Imperfect as it may be, that was one of the only reasonable options we thought we could at least maintain some level of our tournaments.”
That idea fell apart after Rudy Gobert’s positive test on Wednesday night, which quickly led to the postponement of the NBA season (and the MLB, NHL, and MLS seasons the following day).