The bracket was being shared on Twitter about 20 minutes after the start of the two-hour broadcast, generating thousands of retweets as Charles Barkley fumbled around with a touch screen monitor making picks.
"We go through great lengths to prevent the tournament field from being revealed early and the NCAA took its usual measures to protect this from happening," the NCAA said Sunday night in a statement. "Unfortunately, and regrettably, the bracket was revealed prior to our broadcast partners having the opportunity to finish unveiling it. We take this matter seriously and we are looking into it."
CBS declined comment.
The broadcast drew wide criticism on social media for drawing out the selections. Some Kentucky players fell asleep during the show at the home of coach John Calipari. And others waiting for their draw found out about their matchups early as news of the leaked bracket went viral.
At Notre Dame, coach Mike Brey said he got a text from his son, Kyle, a tight ends coach at Youngstown State, saying the leaked bracket showed the Irish playing the winner of the Michigan-Tulsa game in Brooklyn.
"I thought he was messing with me," Brey said. "So I just deleted it. Fifteen minutes later we show up, and then I found out we had a little leakage going on. Nothing's secure, huh? That's great. That is so typical. It's so typical of college basketball."
At Pitt, Sterling Smith set the Panthers at ease early during the selection show, sharing the leaked bracket that showed them as the 10th seed in the East Region. "We were wondering what we were going to do for that entire time; all of a sudden we knew rather quickly," coach Jamie Dixon said.
Xavier forward James Farr said he saw the leaked bracket on his phone while the Musketeers were still waiting to learn their seeding and opponent, but he didn't say anything to his teammates. "I didn't want to ruin anything," Farr said. "I thought it was somebody's prediction of the bracket."
It's not clear who posted the tweet, which was labeled "Spoiler alert." The account used a Kansas logo as its avatar photo, with the name "Sarcastic" followed by a vulgar word. The user later changed the name and protected the account, shortly before the account appeared to be deleted and turned over to a different user.