On Selection Sunday, 10 Facebook fans will get a crash course on bracketology, courtesy of the NCAA. 

For sports fans and gamblers, Selection Sunday is like a national holiday–and this year 10 lucky Facebook fans are getting a front row seat.

For novices, Selection Sunday is the beginning of that holy four-day period full of hope and excitement before college basketball teams start playing actual games and your NCAA March Madness bracket goes to hell in a handbasket.

It’s also an opportunity for students of the game and Northwestern fans to complain about the committee’s selections. At least one team from each of the 32 conferences automatically makes it in (that’s why you’ve never heard of so many of them), which leaves 36 open spots for whomever the committee deigns worthy.

After the selections are made, the committee proceeds to place and seed each team on the bracket. It’s usually this seeding process, which follows a set of complex and arcane rules, that generates the most controversy every year.

But why should a group of 10 stodgy officials have all the say? That’s why the NCAA and Turner Sports Interactive have invited 10 basketball super-fans to Atlanta to learn the details of the selection process, hang out with ex-committee members, and create their own bracket, which will debut one hour before the official selection committee releases theirs on March 11.

“One push this year is to make the process more transparent,” Jeff Hathaway, chair of the NCAA’s selection committee, told Mashable.

It’s admirable of the selection committee to open up its process to the public, even if it’s under very controlled circumstances like this. I doubt the BCS would be so willing to reveal how it makes its bowl selections, which are arguably even more controversial.

So what makes the 10 Facebook users they selected so special? To enter the contest, each participant shot a video of himself/herself explaining why they should pick the field of 68. Some included props and storylines, while others were merely well-spoken pleas. Judging from the winning videos, the main criteria voters on Facebook took into consideration was an intense passion and love for the game.

The contest is more about illuminating the process than the actual selections, which will ultimately be meaningless. Should proven and passionate fans be given a say in the real selection process? Or should fan participation be limited to events with less importance, like slam dunk competitions?

Either way, we’re ready for March Madness.

Photo by joey.parsons

David Holmes

David Holmes

David Holmes is a technology and politics reporter. His work has appeared in Fast Company, the Guardian, the Daily Beast, and Stereogum. In 2011, he wrote the acclaimed "The Fracking Song (My Water's on Fire Tonight) based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling.