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NCAA Tournament TV coverage has come a long way since 1970

St. Bonaventure University and University at Buffalo fans are going to party like it is 1970 tonight as both play in televised games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Regrettably, the majority of the two games are expected to be played at the same time so fans are going to have to be creative to watch them simultaneously.

They can do so by watching one of the games on a TV and the other by streaming it on a computer or mobile device, by using the picture-in-picture feature on televisions, or by going to a local bar where both games will be shown on big screen televisions.

But it could be a lot worse.

It could be 1970, the last time two local teams, St. Bonaventure and Niagara, made the tournament before it was called March Madness.

Many of the tournament games back then weren't even televised.

Since St. Bonaventure and UB created some history by becoming the first two local teams in almost a half century to make the tournament, it is time for a little national television history of  a tournament that thanks to the invention of cable television and advancements in technology now has every game televised.

In 1970, 25 teams qualified for the tournament, 43 fewer than in 2018. That makes the achievements of St. Bonaventure and Niagara in 1970 more impressive.

It is an odd number in more ways than one, but an NCAA representative confirmed Wednesday that is the right number.

As far as television is concerned, he said only two of the nine first-round games played were televised nationally by NBC in a doubleheader.

The following week, he said only two of the four regional finals played to make the Final Four were televised.

When the Final Four was played, East Coast viewers saw one national semifinal and West Coast viewers saw another semifinal.

The championship game and consolation game – yes, teams played for third place back then – were carried nationally.

In other words, the NCAA men's tournament has come a long way since St. Bonaventure and Niagara made it 48 years ago.

Buffalo vs. Arizona NCAA breakdown and prediction

Ratings Time: Syracuse's 60-56 victory Wednesday over an Arizona State team coached by former UB coach Bobby Hurley in a play-in game that may have set basketball back to 1970 had a decent local rating. The game had a 4.1 local rating on truTV. Bona's win over UCLA Tuesday on the same channel had a 5.7 local rating.

Prediction Time: Since the UB game tonight against Arizona is on WIVB-TV, a CBS affiliate, and Bona's game with Florida is on truTV, you would expect the UB game to get a higher rating. If it was reversed and St. Bonaventure was on Channel 4, it most likely would be the higher-rated game.

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