The Madness is Making Me Mad

Posted on March 15, 2011

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I’m so disappointed in the NCAA about their insistence on trying to screw up the best sporting event of the year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March Madness was pure. March Madness was honest. Now March Madness is confusing.

I know there are millions of dollars at stake but it seems like the changes the NCAA has made works well for everyone except the fans.

The tournament has been expanded to 68 teams with four “play-in” games taking place the days leading up to the traditional Thursday start of the tournament. I know it’s the first year of the new arrangement but even the announcers on ESPN were confused about when brackets would have to be finalized for office pools. Memo to the NCAA: it’s those pools that drive the popularity of the tournament. Adding to the confusion is the genius plan to call those first four games the first round of the tournament meaning the traditional first round is now the second round, the second round is now the third and so on, and so on and so on. Augh!

Then there’s geography. There used to be four regionals, north, south, east and west. Simple to understand. Teams that got top seeds were rewarded by playing close to home. Other teams that hadn’t had strong seasons were forced to travel.  

This year Duke is a number one seed in the west region. Their first two games are in Charlotte, North Carolina though I’m not exactly what that would be west of. If they win then they have to travel to California.

Meanwhile their arch-rival North Carolina who has a lower seed, is also playing their first-round games in Charlotte. If they make it to the Sweet 16 they wave goodbye as Duke hops a plane to fly west, then they make a much shorter trip up the coast to Newark, NJ. Seems like North Carolina got a better deal even though Duke is a higher seed.

Confused yet? I am.

This is also the first year that the games will be shown on multiple networks instead of just CBS. It’s great that all the games will be televised but they are split up amongst CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru TV.  I didn’t even know I had Tru TV. I checked in to see if there was a game tonight and encountered a show called “Lizard Lick Towing.” Logically that’s where people will expect to find college basketball games and besides its not like CBS has a channel called the College Sports Network or anything. Oh wait, yes they do. 

I know I sound like a crotchety old man but there’s a point to my ranting. Change can be good but it’s important to keep the audience in mind.  Keeping your show fresh and up-to-date is an important part of being a host. Just remember that when you make changes, make sure the people who drive ratings, be they college hoops fans or radio listeners, are the ones who benefit. 

Thanks! I feel better now!

Go Spartans!

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