Even though the NCAA Tournament is eight months away, we've got a hefty update on some upcoming changes.
One twist coming next season: The No. 1 overall seed will be able to choose the location of its first two games of the tournament. So if that team is Duke, or Kentucky, or Kansas, or whichever school gets put atop the 1-68 seed list, that program will get to pick where it plays its first and second-round games.
"Preferences would be communicated by teams in contention for the overall No. 1 seed far in advance of Selection Sunday in a process to be determined," the NCAA said in a statement.
This means a handful of teams will look at all eight first-weekend sites and let the selection committee know which one it prefers. The top-seeded program won't know which team(s) it'll be playing, but it will get dibs on digs, which is a nice little update.
Cities playing host to first and second-round NCAA tournament games next March are Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Tulsa and Sacramento.
The other teams in the field will continue to be at the mercy of the selection committee. If anything, this adds even more emphasis to overall résumé and could keep importance on league tournaments.
Speaking of that, in an effort to put more meaning on league tournament results throughout the sport, the committee -- per the request of the National Association of Basketball Coaches' newly formed ad hoc committee -- will continue to weigh a regular-season title with just as much meaning as a league postseason championship.
Remember, the NABC's ad hoc group was put into motion this year for the first time in order to keep the selection committee's process more educated on considerate of many facets of the selection, seeding and bracketing undertaking.
The NABC also wants an updated composite ranking system -- something as a substitute to RPI -- and so the NCAA says it will take a close look at altering its analytical measures in that regard. But a change there isn't coming until 2017-18 at the earliest, stating, "The basketball committee supported in concept revising the current ranking system utilized in the selection and seeding process, and will work collaboratively with select members of the NABC ad hoc group to study a potentially more effective composite ranking system."
Additionally, the NABC seems to be on track with insisting certain criteria as critical to seeding and selection. Namely, asking the selection committee to put even more emphasis on non-conference strength of schedule, road and neutral victories, quality wins and overall strength of schedule. (These practices are in place, but there is still tweaking to be done, evidenced by Monmouth's inexcusable absence from last year's field.)
Last year, for the first time, the NCAA opted to hold its selection process for the tournament in New York City. It will do so again in 2017, from March 7-12.
Personnel-wise, longtime Creighton AD Bruce Rasmussen has been named the chair for the 2018 NCAA Tournament. He'll succeed Michigan State AD Mark Hollis, who will serve his fifth and final year on the committee this upcoming season.
"I am humbled and honored to be selected by my peers for a leadership role on the Men's Basketball Committee," Rasmussen, who coached Creighton in women's basketball for 12 seasons, from 1980-1992, said."It is an incredible honor to be a part of it and see up close how meaningful it is to each of the students who are also athletes to participate in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. I never imagined that I would be able to serve the NCAA membership, our students, coaches and basketball fans as a committee member. I am excited about working with our committee, Dan Gavitt and the extremely talented and committed NCAA staff over the next two years."