AROUND THE 'NET: An early look at Selection Sunday, and a look at early commitments

Ever sit there on Selection Sunday -- which incidentally, is just one month from today -- and say to yourself: "I can't believe that team made it in the field! That other team is so much more deserving of that spot. It's a no-brainer! What in the heck was the committee thinking?!?"

I have. And so has ESPN.com writer Pat Forde. That's precisely why the NCAA asked Forde and 19 other members of the United States Basketball Writers Association to come to Indianapolis and participate in a simulated Selection Sunday, presumably to get these writers off their backs a month from now.

It seems to have worked. Wrote Forde:

We the media had a deadline to produce our own mock NCAA Tournament bracket for a mock selection show, and we blew it. By about 95 minutes. We nearly turned Selection Sunday into Selection Monday.

And we're pretty good at making deadlines. It's what we do for a living.

But this was different.

This was, as the NCAA surely predicted we know-it-alls would learn, harder than it looks.

Forde, ESPN.com colleague Andy Katz and CBS SportsLine's Dennis Dodd emerged from the process with a genuine appreciation for what the committee goes through in making its decisions. And they each wrote about the process -- fascinating stuff if you're a fan of college basketball. Forde's story is more of an overall look at what it's like trying to make the decisions; Katz's story is pretty much a blow-by-blow look at the event. You can find them here -- if you've only got time to read one, read Forde's:
Additionally, there was another cool story in the Seattle Times this morning by Bud Withers, who examined the phenominon of early commitments in college basketball. With the proliferation of AAU teams, kids are being actively recruited as early as their freshman year of high school, and committing not long after.

While it seems a bit disturbing to most people, I think it's actually not all that bad for the college basketball game. I think it's one of the reasons you've seen mid-majors become so darn good over the past few years: They pick up on the late bloomers who fly under the radar, the guys who actually make it to their senior years without having committed. I think programs who regularly practice what Withers is talking about set themselves up for problems.

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