Last night, the most recent College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled immediately after the Duke-UK basketball game ended. The weekly rankings reveal has become a big attention-grabber on what's normally a slow sports night during the week. Ultimately it's a meaningless exercise - the only rankings that matter are the final ones.
But these rankings accomplish two important things. One, they get people talking about college football during the week. And two, they create even more drama for the games of the upcoming weekend. And people sure do have a lot to say!
Check out what the SB Nation Oklahoma blog thinks about being #7, two spots behind #5 Iowa:
Jeff Long just said Iowa is better than both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. I'm done— CC Machine (@CCMachine) November 18, 2015
Speaking of which, the Big 12 gets so much disrespect you'd think Rutgers was in the conference! (Side note to the Big 12: Rutgers can be all yours for the low price of 3 dollars and 49 cents!)
Does Jeff Long seem to disrespect Big 12? Don't get it. Didn't one of the Big 12 also-rans beat his Hogs, perhaps the SEC's 2nd best team.— Olin Buchanan (@olinbuchanan) November 18, 2015
Meanwhile we're just over here in the corner like:
MICHIGAN MOVES UP TWO SPOTS AFTER A DOUBLE OVERTIME WIN OVER INDIANA https://t.co/vy25FbM9mE— Crimson Quarry (@crimsonquarry) November 18, 2015
So sure, it's meaningless, but it gets people excited and creates some good #banter.
But unfortunately, the NCAA Tournament Selection Commitee has no plans to do such a thing, as Matt Norlander of CBS Sports explains:
Even better news? College basketball's powers-that-be are holding firm that they won't mimic what's happening with the College Football Playoff. Meaning: No weekly TV show to unveil a look at the committee's bracket prior to Selection Sunday.
From the release: "The committee again discussed the possibility of doing an in-season ranking of teams, but there was not support in doing so."
Now, I really like Norlander as a college hoops writer, and also he has great taste in music and he's a proud father of a newborn son. But with all due respect, I disagree with him here.
Here's why college basketball needs a weekly ranking show.
1. More transparency.
The Selection Committee has attempted to be more transparent in recent years, releasing a full 1-68 ranking in addition to the seedings. But still, they're a shadowy and mysterious group, and a weekly show would give fans some idea of where their team is heading in both the first two rounds and for Regionals, instead of having to scramble for tickets and flights three days before the tourney begins.
Now, I'm not saying we should rank every team each week, but at least do the top 4 seeds in each region. And like with Jeff Long on the football selection committee, I think it would be important Imagine this year's Selection Committee chair, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione, discussing something as absurd the "body clock" of IU or Kansas because they played games in Maui. Sure it's silly, but it's provocative and makes good theater, and for an ultimately meaningless exercise, that's what you want.
2. It will get viewers excited for big matchups late in the regular season.
College basketball has a problem that a lot of people around the sport are afraid to touch - outside of March Madness, the average sports fans aren't tuning in as much. There's a lull in the sports calendar in February after the Super Bowl and before March Madness too, and during this time you'll get some excellent college games being played around the country. Why not have college basketball capitalize on this month and a half long time frame by promoting their own product through this weekly show?
The CFP weekly rankings have demonstrated how to make these rivalries seem even more worthwhile - they basically set Alabama and LSU in their first rankings up to be a playoff elimination game. Basketball could do this as well. Play up that IU-Purdue rivalry game for seeding purposes! Make a vague reference to Duke-UNC being a battle for the 1-seed in the South region! Sure, this is all stuff we would already know, but having the official word from the ones with the power truly legitimizes it and gets others who aren't as invested to tune in so they can figure out how to fill out their brackets later on.
3. Banter banter banter.
Look at the examples above. People are mad online about the football rankings, yet they count for nothing right now. Already hypotheticals are being drawn into what could happen and how teams could vault into the top 4. The same could easily happen with basketball:
- Arizona not getting that 1-seed out west, huh? PAC 12 DISREPECT RIGHT THERE, FAM. SELECTION COMMITTEE NEEDS TO STAY UP LATER!
- Villanova getting that top seed over Maryland in the East region with two weeks left in the regular season? BUT I HEARD THE BIG EAST WAS TERRIBLE AND ALWAYS CHOKES IN THE TOURNEY!
- A top mid-major getting the last 4-seed over a blue-blood? YEAH WELL WHO'S HEARD OF THEM, THEY AIN'T PLAYED NOBODY!
- Committee cites a bad conference loss as the reason why IU isn't higher? CREAN STILL CAN'T BEAT NORTHWESTERN CAN HE!
- And if they manage to knock UK off at some point, fans at a football powerhouse SEC school would use these rankings to justify that they matter, even if the rest of the season isn't going great. BAMA'S A BASKETBALL SCHOOL NOW TOO ROLL TIDE PAWWWWLLLL!
You see? This could be fun, and also increase transparency and awareness in the month leading up to Selection Sunday. As the football playoff rankings have shown, controversy and arguments sell, and fans are buying it up.
Time to do the same for college hoops.