By Peter Gleason
Selection Sunday is finally here — when we find out who will make the NCAA tournament/aka/The Big Dance — and March Madness kicks off with the finish line in San Antonio next month with the Final Four.
The 2016 selection show, on CBS, was a disaster.
Expanded to two hours, the show slow-played the reveal of the bracket — an attempt to manufacture drama and justify the longer show — but was greeted by loud complaints from viewers. Even worse, the correct bracket leaked online before the show began. Last year, a chastened CBS cut the show back to 90 minutes, and moved quickly to unveil the matchups.
Tonight’s edition of the “March Madness Selection Show”will have a new look, as well as a new home.
For the first time, the show will be televised on TBS instead of its longtime home, CBS, beginning at 6 p.m., Eastern time. (Turner, TBS’s parent company, and CBS share the rights to the tournament.) Turner designed a new studio on its Atlanta campus for the show, which will have a live audience this year — one of a number of significant changes to the show’s format in the wake of some recent, high-profile blunders.
Turner will handle things differently. All 68 tournament teams will be revealed within the first 10 minutes of the two-hour show, eliminating any drama about who is left on the bubble, and the full regional brackets will be shown over the next half-hour. Ernie Johnson and Greg Gumbel will host the show, joined in the studio by the analysts Clark Kellogg, Charles Barkley (above), Kenny Smith and Seth Davis.