USC Women's Basketball

ESPN apologizes for accidental early reveal of NCAA women’s tournament bracket

Hours before the official reveal, ESPN accidentally broadcasted the NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket on ESPNU on Monday, according to screenshots posted on Twitter and confirmed by ESPN.

TV analyst Blake DuDonis posted pictures of the bracket that aired on the side of the screen during “Bracketology,” an ESPN show breaking down the men’s tournament field. Reporter Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning-News also tweeted out a recording of the screen.

South Carolina women’s basketball will be a No. 4 seed in the Greensboro regional, hosting the first two rounds in the Charlotte, North Carolina. The Gamecocks’ first-round opponent will be No. 13 seed Belmont. The second-round opponent would be the winner of No. 5 Florida State-No. 12 Bucknell.

The official selection show had been scheduled to be at 7 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The NCAA announced shortly after the leak that the bracket would be revealed on ESPN2 at 5 p.m., confirming that the bracket on ESPNU was accurate.

Maria Taylor, host of the bracket reveal show, read this statement as the show began at 5 p.m.: “We extend an apology to the NCAA and the women’s basketball community. We will conduct a thorough review of the process to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

The No. 1 seed in the region is Baylor, the No. 1 overall team in the latest Associated Press poll.

These matchups were different from the projections of ESPN’s own bracketologist Charlie Creme.

South Carolina’s FAMdemonium watch party proceeded as planned, with the 5 p.m. broadcast happening without the team in attendance. The team arrived at Williams-Brice Stadium at approximately 5:30 p.m. and celebrated with fans.

“I was actually in my office and I got a few text messages well before it really hit social media,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of where she was when she first saw the leak. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh, let’s see if this is really valid.’ And then we started calling around and started looking at social media, and then people, some reliable sources, were saying that this is the bracket. So I immediately called (video coordinator Hudson Jacobs) to get as much as film on Belmont and Bucknell and Florida State.”