March Madness has been canceled for the 2020 season as response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and there appears to be no plans to reveal the bracket today on Selection Sunday. NCAA media coordinator David Worlock explained that the selection committee “hardly started the process.” Selection Sunday was initially scheduled to take place on CBS at 6 p.m. Eastern.
“No plans to do that,” Worlock explained to ESPN. “We hardly started the process. The priority for committee members then was to return home to tend to affairs on campus or conference offices.”
There had been rumors that the NCAA would release the 68-team bracket despite the tournament being canceled. Prior to ESPN’s report, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt admitted to CBS Sports that they had not ruled out the idea of a bracket reveal.
“We’re hearing today there’s interest from coaches and athletic directors from that,” Gavitt told CBS Sports. “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.”
The NCAA Considered a 16-Team March Madness Tournament
The NCAA initially planned to hold March Madness as scheduled but without fans in the arenas. After Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 prior to an NBA game, it became increasingly unlikely that the NCAA tournament would take place. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander reported that the NCAA considered an alternative idea of a smaller 16-team tournament in Atlanta to crown a champion.
Reducing the field from 68 to 16 had to mean the elimination of automatic-qualifier bids. All 16 teams would have been selected on the strength of their overall profiles for at-large consideration. Had a school or two or three or more opted not to travel and play in the event, Gavitt said the committee would have made a length overall seed list and continued down to Nos. 17, 18, 19 and so on if necessary to ask teams that would’ve been willing to participate.
March Madness Was Canceled Rather Than Postponed
There had been some hope that the NCAA would postpone the tournament and reassess playing games in April or May. As the virus continues to spread, the NCAA opted to cancel not only March Madness but the other collegiate sports championships as well. NCAA president Mark Emmert admitted that the projections for the virus “looks worse” as the calendar moves forward.
“The immediate logistical problems were that we had this rapidly, continuing right now, number of schools that were shutting down,” Emmert noted, per Courier-Journal. “We had the reality that if you start a tournament six weeks from now a bunch of our students our seniors and will have moved on. And when you looked at the projections of where the virus was going to be in six weeks it looks worse, not better.”