Madness in March the last few years has been sitting through the March Madness Selection Show.

Once the most watched and anticipated hour of the sports television year has been ruined by tweaks that sucked out all the drama. Luckily, the broadcast will return to what worked so beautifully when the NCAA Tournament pairings are revealed at 5 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

Two years ago, CBS expanded the selection show to two hours. Not only did viewers get bored right away — especially with Charles Barkley fumbling through the analysis — but the pairings got leaked on social media. Fans everywhere saw where their favorite teams were playing and turned off the broadcast.

Last year's program went back to its original one-hour format. However, the field was revealed in alphabetical order at the start of the broadcast before showing the brackets.

So if you were a fan of Notre Dame, which was on the bubble, you knew when Providence was shown that the Irish were out of the 68-team field.

Part of the fun and excitement in the past was thinking your team still had a chance until the very last pairing was unveiled. Knowing in the first five minutes all hope is lost just made the rest of the broadcast unbearable to view.

Watching the sheer thrill of the last team getting in is what truly makes the Selection Show so special ... and also seeing the dejection on the faces of those whose dreams have just been dashed.

Thankfully, the TV executives in New York have realized that what worked so well for such a long time should never have been changed. On Sunday, the brackets will be revealed region by region at the start of the telecast, with Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis providing a short analysis after each region before host Greg Gumbel heads to the next.

Then afterward, NCAA Selection Committee chairman Bernard Muir will be interviewed and tell why one team made it and another was left out.

Two games on Tuesday and Wednesday with The First Four (Tru TV) gets everyone ready. Then the greatest two days of the sports year begins Thursday with 16 first-round tournament games on CBS, TNT, TBS and Tru TV followed by another 16 the next day.

PGA Tour: The Players (NBC, noon Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday): The unofficial fifth major moves back to March for the first time since 2006. Watching balls find the drink on the par-3 17th makes duffers everywhere smile.

NBA: Warriors at Spurs (ESPN, 7 p.m. Monday): Golden State looked vulnerable for a while. Then Boogie Cousins stepped in and now the Warriors have a starting lineup that could beat any All-Star team.

MLB: Mariners vs. Athletics (ESPN, 4:30 a.m. Wednesday): Get up early and see the first pitch of the season from Japan. No foolin'. The other 28 teams don't start until March 28, thankfully.

Contact Jim Benson at jbenson@pantagraph.com.



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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