Friday, April 07, 2006

March Madness in Review

Now that the Tournament is over (congrats to my nephew's Gators!) I have to reflect on its continuing diminuation of the college basketball season overall. In my opinion March Madness threatens to make the rest of the season obsolete. I listen to two hours of sports talk radio a day during my commute and I would wager the average amount of weekly time spent dicussing college basketball prior to the end of February is insignificant. Then the tournament kicks in and it goes into overdrive especially during the first week or two.

This brings me to my second point which is the Tournament starts on a high note the first weekend due to all the upsets, the total number of games and the proliferation of mid-majors. The second weekend is still good because a couple of cinderella teams exist and everyone is excited to see if they can go on. By the time the Final Four rolls around people are tired and the excitement seems diminshed and the Championship Game on a Monday night has to be the worst marketing/TV idea of all time (note to CBS - push the NCAA to have the semi-finals on Friday night with the finals on Sunday afternoon). The problem with the tournament is it diminishes excellence during the season and kills the national appeal of games. Contrast this with college football. Fans are focused on college football from the very first games, they matter! Florida St vs. Miami on Labor Day is a huge game not only for the schools' fans, but ACC fans and fans of any team with National Title hopes. Any late season games like USC/UCLA played deep in November matter a lot because one team (typically USC) could be out of the title hunt with a loss. Contrast this with basketball where the season starts in anonimity for most teams and late season games often mean nothing unless you are on the tournament bubble. A classic example is Duke losing to UNC on Senior Night /last game of the year. Great game, fans mayl watch but the loss means NOTHING to Duke in the grand scheme. Don't get me wrong, I like the tournament but the football season is so much more enjoyable than basketball because so many games are relevant to fans in addition to those of their own teams. A great compliment to football would be a very limited playoff structure where the Top 4-8 teams would play for the championship over 2 or 3 weeks. It would drawf March Madness.