The NCAA tournament selection committee is going to provide an early look at the March Madness bracket for the first time by releasing the top 16 overall seeds as they stand in mid-February.
An announcement posted on NCAA.com on Tuesday provided the details of the new NCAA tournament preview show, which will air on CBS at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 11. The committee will identify how the top four teams in each region would look if the event started that day.
The release included a statement from Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, the chair for this season's selection committee, about the decision to relay a glimpse at the bracket a month early.
"We are excited about giving the fans a glimpse to what the men's basketball committee is thinking at this point of the season, and creating a buzz as we look towards Selection Sunday," Hollis said. "It's important to recognize after this list has been released, there is still a significant portion of the regular season to be played and every league must stage its conference tournament."
He added: "There's potential for quite a bit of movement until we do it for real March 12, but this early peek will give everyone insight as to where the committee stands as we hit the stretch run of the regular season."
The idea is similar to that of the College Football Playoff, which releases weekly rankings to show teams exactly where they stand down the stretch. The difference is the basketball committee is only scheduled to do a one-off rankings preview, at least this year.
While more transparency in the process is always a positive, the release would be far more impactful if it also ranked the current bubble teams.
The top 16 seeds in the middle of February are virtual locks for the Big Dance. So the only thing they'll gain is knowing how much they can rise or fall during that final month.
It would be helpful for bubble teams to know exactly where they stand in the eyes of the committee. And, while it wouldn't change the outlook of trying to win every game, it could provide some extra motivation and certainly add more drama for the end of the regular season and the conference tournaments.
The show will still dive into that issue, though. The NCAA.com announcement noted CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm will break down his full 68-team projected bracket after the top 16 are announced, but it won't be an official look at the bubble.
Perhaps that, along with making the top-16 rankings a weekly release, will be considered after this year's trial run. Regardless, the early March Madness preview should help college basketball more quickly assume the spotlight following the end of football season.
Note: Turner Sports, who is co-producing the event, is the parent company of Bleacher Report.