The NCAA Tournament selection show is returning to CBS and its traditional bracket-first format for revealing the field for March Madness.
The plan for Sunday is to drop the alphabetical reveal and get right to the bracket. The show will be one hour, start at 6 p.m. EDT and be hosted as usual by Greg Gumbel.
“We’re going back to basics,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said Tuesday. “We’re going to release the brackets as fast as we can.”
Last year, the Selection Sunday show aired on TBS for the first time since CBS and Turner became broadcast partners for the men’s basketball tournament in 2011. The presentation of the 68-team field was tweaked, first showing the teams that had earned automatic bids in alphabetical order, and then revealing the 36 at-large selections in alphabetical order. After the teams were announced, the matchups were revealed region by region and the bracket was filled in.
CBS Sports and Turners Sports held their annual media breakfast Tuesday in midtown Manhattan, with McManus and Jeff Zucker, president of Warner Media News and Sports, and on-air announcers such as Jim Nantz and Charles Barkley.
“We together with Turner kind of changed the format of the selection show with Turner, and what we found was people want to know the brackets as soon as possible,” McManus said. “And that’s why we’re doing it this year in this format.”
Gumbel said he didn’t like last year’s bracket-reveal and prefers the selection show to be one hour. The show had been expanded to two hours in some years recently.
“There’s a challenge to being concise and dispensing it with a little information,” he said. “What’s really important is all the cards are in order and they’re in order in the way that they are going to be shown on screen.”
Gumbel and the studio crew, which will include Barkley and Kenny Smith, will see the bracket before the show starts, but how long they get a chance to look it over can vary.
“The bracket could arrive at 5 o’clock. It could arrive at 5:15,” Gumbel said. “It gets a little more challenging when it arrives at 5:45 or 5:50.”