The Rock Report

Everyone Wins With These NCAA Final Four....

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March Madness is in full effect.  You want to know how you can tell?  Look at your own bracket and compare it to the real thing.
 
Who in their right mind would have picked these final four teams in their bracket as the ones who would be standing tall headed to Houston, TX attempting to win college basketball's greatest prize?  Some may have picked UCONN and Kentucky based on their runs in their respective conference tournament championships.  Some could have picked Butler because of their unpredictable run last year and thought it could carry over to this season.  No one could have predicted the last team to enter the tournament field as one of the Final Four.
 
How many people even knew what VCU stands for?
 
While some may criticize the way the tournament was seeded or why certain teams got snubbed over others, the NCAA is sitting on a great finish to a mediocre tournament.

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Looking at the way the tournament has worked itself out, how can the average tournament viewer lose out?  The average Final Four viewer gets exactly what the average Final Four viewer wants.  You get the big name teams that you recognize, and  get the underdog sensation that the country adores.  Looking at last year's championship game which featured the "recognizable" Duke against the "underdog" Butler, the NCAA cashed in with their highest TV rating in five years.   
 
How can the NCAA shoot an air ball on this coming weekend's action?  It's practically impossible.
 
For a sport in a steady rate of decline both in regular season attendance and TV Ratings, the NCAA is continuing to cash in on their cash cow.  The NCAA ratings thru Saturday night's games was averaging 9.1 million viewers on the four networks combined, which is +11% over last year's 8.2 million average.  The access the NCAA has given the viewing public by putting every game on the television has worked out.  While it was a big gamble by the networks, people are watching teams they have never watched before in record numbers because of a small piece of paper they fill out with their co-workers.
 
The way it has worked out, everyone is a winner.
 
  • The NCAA gets the ratings and the television revenue that follows.
  • The smaller schools continue to prove that the landscape of college basketball is more even than we know.
  • The cities that held games make money for their local economies.
  • The viewer does not lose the essence of this tournament.....where everyone has a shot to be the kings of college basketball.  That is where this tournament wins the most.
 
Makes you think why does not college football do something like this?  That is another story all together.
 
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While the game of college basketball itself could be compared more to elite high school buckets than NBA D-League style of play, the viewer in the end wins.  The sole reason of the tournament is for each team to legitimately have a shot to win it all.  Teams like VCU (which by the way stands for Virginia Commonwealth University) and Butler draw in the eyes of the average viewer because of their story.  The story of the small school beating up the big boys of the sport pushing on farther than anyone expected them too.  The American public always roots for an underdog, and these teams fit that role to perfection.
 
You mix in the underdog teams with a shot at glory with two of college basketball's most recognizable names.  Mix in a team like UCONN who is the hottest team in basketball from the biggest conference in the country, and Kentucky who is a traditional college basketball power house.  As unpredictable as this tournament has been, the NCAA could not have planned it any better.   
 
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The fact is you have something for everyone in the final four teams left in the tournament.  You have recognizable names on recognizable teams.  You have underdogs teams continuing to defy the odds. You have all the remaining games on the single network which has hosted this tournament since 1982.  On top of everything else the semifinal games are broadcast the day following baseball's opening day (not on it), and a day when there are no NBA games featuring top name teams on national networks.
 
While the style of play has been mediocre with an occasional buzzer beater and the definition of what exactly is an upset has been re-defined, the finish of this year's NCAA tournament will be one of the most watched ever.  Without a doubt, this tournament has shown the power of a single piece of paper and the craving the viewing public has for madness to ensue.
 
No matter how the games work out.....everyone is a winner when March lives up to the madness.
 
-RoCk
 
John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and Host of The Rock Report on WSCR 670AM The Score
 
You can follow Rock at twitter.com/rockmamola

 
CATCH THE ROCK REPORT EVERY FRIDAY AT 10PM (CST) ON 670AM WSCR THE SCORE IN CHICAGO AND 670THESCORE.COM WORLDWIDE




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1 Comment

Kevin Powell said:

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Over the past few college hoop seasons I have given this season my least amount of time, but I will certainly be tuning in to these semifinal matchups.

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