It's time for a one-day revival of Sports on the Air devoted to the NCAA basketball tournaments.
As the Sweet 16 prepare to play basketball Thursday and Friday, here are some thoughts about the incredible first two rounds of March Madness carried by CBS and cable:
The St. Bonaventure and University at Buffalo women’s basketball teams deserve plenty of cheers for making the NCAA tournament.
But the increased coverage they have deservedly received from the mainstream media hasn’t translated into significant television audiences in Western New York watching on ESPN2.
And that’s a shame that just illustrates that WNY has been slow to embrace women’s college sports.
UB’s 88-69 first round loss to Ohio State on ESPN 2 had just a 0.5 rating and it was the top-rated game involving local women.
Bona’s 65-54 first round upset of Oklahoma State had a 0.3 rating on ESPN2. Its 69-40 second round loss to Oregon State had a 0.4 rating on ESPN2.
By comparison, the UB men’s 79-72 first-round loss to Miami had an 8.8 rating on cable’s TNT, which is about 18 times the rating for the UB women.
A rating point equals 5,853 households, which means the UB game men’s game was watched in about 50,500 households and the UB women’s game in about 2,900 households. The Bona women’s games were watched in about 1,570 households and about 2,350 households, respectively.
The top-rated men’s game in the first two rounds here not involving UB was Duke’s 70-64 win over Yale carried Saturday on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. It had a 5.0 rating. Duke is always a big draw here and playing against an Ivy League team that had never made the tournament before made it a great matchup. And Yale’s incredible comeback sure didn’t hurt ratings.
Speaking of Yale, I loved this line from Jimmy Fallon during one “Tonight Show” monologue last week: “This is pretty cool. Yale will actually be making its first appearance in the tournament since 1962. Yeah, parents of those Yale students say the only thing that could make them prouder is if their kids had gotten into Harvard. Someone from Harvard is on our writing staff.”
Indiana’ second round win over Kentucky was No. 2 here with a 4.0 rating on Channel 4. Oklahoma’s win over VCU was No. 3 with a 3.7 rating on Channel 4.
Syracuse had the top-rated game on cable, a 3.2 for its win over Middle Tennessee State. Its victory over Dayton that started at noon last Friday had a 2.5 rating on Channel 4. Syracuse’s game with Gonzaga at around 9:40 p.m. Friday should have a much higher rating on Channel 4 because it is on at an hour with more available viewers. Kevin Harlan is on play-by-play, with Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner the analysts.
Several exciting games carried on the cable networks had ratings that didn’t hit a 1.0, including Northern Iowa’s upset of Texas and Gonzaga’s upset of Seton Hall.
Texas A& M’s incredible comeback from a 12-point deficit in the final 44 seconds of a double overtime victory over Northern Iowa had only a 0.6 rating here. Northern Iowa’s upset of Texas on a mid-court shot at the buzzer had a 0.4 rating here.
That shot made me tweet late Friday night “best tournament day ever from start to finish.”
CBS analysts Seth Davis and Wally Szczerbiak said pretty much the same thing on post-game shows.
Remember when Brian Anderson did a Bills game in 2014 and nobody knew who he was? He has been very strong as the play-by-play man on tournament games.
Syracuse graduates Ian Eagle and Carter Blackburn also have been impressive doing games. But I must admit I miss hearing another SU grad, ESPN’s Sean McDonough, during the tournament.
I just wish once an analyst would call a bad call a bad call. Notre Dame was able to defeat Stephen F. Austin by a point because it got a couple of phantom calls near the end. They included a very iffy one on a rebound that analyst Jim Sparnarkel sort of defended. Ultimately, that call and another one, in which a foul was called against SFA after a Notre Dame player slipped, cost SFA the game.
Comedian Bill Murray is known for giving some odd looks during his movie performances. Wearing an Xavier hat, he didn’t seem to be acting when CBS caught him looking dazed after Xavier was beaten by a three-pointer by Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig at the buzzer.
I bet CBS wasn’t quite as happy during one game when someone wearing a Santa Claus outfit gave the camera a double half-victory salute.
Games like Duke’s victory over Yale make me wonder why Coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t have any gray hair. As they used to say in an old commercial, only his hairdresser knows for sure.
Best Post-game lines: Syracuse star Mike Gbinije when asked what he would tell people who didn’t his team belonged in the tournament: “Thank you for the motivation.”
Wisconsin’s Koenig after his game-winner: “I tried to channel my inner Steph Curry and it worked.”