Tournament time is right around the corner where people will leave work early or subscribe to a live stream of their favorite team to pass some dead time at work. Bracketts will be flying around the office along with squares as well, and even the one guy/gal who hasn't watched a second of NCAA hoops will pick the big 3/14 matchup upset and get it right on. But W=when it comes to the NCAA tournament (which btw is coming up extremely soon in case you didn't already know), is it better to have the upset early rather than the "juicy" match up later in the rounds?
So with that in mind, I thought I'd take a look at last years' tourney and look up how the early upsets impacted the later match ups.
Now of course last years' tournament was known as the tourney where all four number one seeds made it to the final four for the first time in tournament history. In the end, the best match ups (according to the selection committee) happened....but what about those early upsets and how did they affect the ratings?
Looking at the bracket....here are your "upsets" by seeding...
(9) Arkansas over (8) Indiana
(9)Texas A&M over (8)BYU
(12) Western Kentucky over (5) Drake
(13) San Diego over (4) Connecticut
(12) Villanova over (5) Clemson
(13) Siena over (4) Vanderbilt
(11) Kansas State over (4) USC
(10) Davidson over (7) Gonzaga
If you look at the teams (8 of em) that upset the higher seed, 4 of those team played each other (Western Kentucky vs. San Diego/Villanova vs. Siena) and of the other 4 teams....1 advanced (Davidson).
However with 8 "upsets" in the first round plus a second round where you had two 12/13 matchups for a birth in the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament....the ratings were down 9% from the year before (4.8 rating/11 share in 2008/5.3 rating/12 share in 2007). Do people really enjoy watching the upset team from Kansas State beat up on the heart of a major market in USC? I thought people loved watching the upset, but then again after the upset.....for the most part....that team doesn't do anything of significance in their remainder of a tour in the tourney.
Is it really worth it to see the one "upset" on a weekend and then don't get the "juicy" match up in the end? Looking at the bracket...wouldn't you rather see Connecticut get past that first round game, face an upstart in Drake and maybe take on UCLA. Don't you wanna see that big school type of match up with the big names of the sport playing the game for a chance at the title?
I'd rather see the big match ups instead of the upset. Upsets supposedly make the tournament better in some people's eyes, but it's more of a distraction if you ask me. The upset distracts people from what really matters in the tournament....how the better teams perform. Villanova beat Clemson by 6 points as Siena romped Vandy by 21...they play each other as a 12-13 match up which the ratings were absolute garbage...Nova wins and then promptly gets destroyed by Kansas in the sweet sixteen. Does that make the tournament more watchable when a 12 seed makes the sweet sixteen? Clemson or Vandy would have both been better match ups for Kansas n the sweet sixteen and possibly would have brought a little more attention/ratings to the game itself. The thing about Vandy playing Kansas however is it's like Kansas got a round off by playing that game on their way to the national title. I like the better match up rather than the notion that the impossible can happen.
I'm not saying fix the tournament and condense it down to 32 teams....it's just when you're filling out your bracket in the coming weeks, if you like the upset..pick em to lose the next week. It's just not worth one game where the "impossible" happens to me. The upsets are nice, but it doesn't make the tournament any better in my eyes. Give me the big match ups with the big names and big programs.
This years NCAA tournament after it's all said and done may be the worst tournament in history because of the parody in NCAA hoops. There is no dominant team/player and therefore there could be alot of "upsets" that first weekend. Is it enough to make you tune in and see if the sleeper can pull it off again? Odds are it won't happen so why believe?
I wanna see Oklahoma take on Michigan State. I wanna see North Carolina take on UCLA. I wanna see the bigger programs/players/coaches go head to head rather than Connecticut take on upset bound Rhode Island.
For me, this could be one of the first years in a while where the NCAA tournament just doesn't attract me as a viewer. The upset may be enough to keep the average fan, but it's not enough to make my tournament experience better.