My friends and relatives who know I love basketball were stunned that I left the country on vacation during March Madness.
It was almost as unimaginable to them as the successful seasons that the University at Buffalo men’s and women’s basketball teams achieved that helped capture the attention of more Western New York fans than usual.
Full disclosure: I tried to find a sports bar in Italy to watch the UB games but the only one I could find in Rome was showing soccer.
While I did sightseeing in Rome, Florence and Venice, I actually felt a little envious of the people back home watching the UB games in the NCAA tournaments and wondered how many viewers there were.
The teams, featuring Nick Perkins and CJ Massinburg on the men's team and Cierra Dillard and Summer Hemphill on the women's, played two NCAA Tournament games each at approximately the same times. That was unfair to the women even if there was potential for a decent amount of dial switching. The local ratings for the men's games were about four times higher than the local ratings for the women's games.
More of the results:
The UB men’s victory over Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State team on March 22 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament had a strong 12.0 rating on TNT.
The UB women’s victory over Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament had a decent 2.8 rating on ESPN2 the same night. There had been some unnecessary concern that only part of the UB game would be shown as part of ESPN2’s coverage of four games simultaneously. However, ESPN isn't stupid; it always planned to carry the UB game here on ESPN2 in its entirety as Buffalo was an area of local interest.
The ratings story was similar March 24 when the two teams played second-round tournament games. The UB men’s loss to eventual Final Four team Texas Tech had a 14.0 local live rating on TNT, which is higher than any regular scheduled prime-time entertainment series gets these days.
The UB women’s loss to eventual Final Four team UConn had a 3.7 local rating on ESPN.
The UB women received strong ratings for college basketball here and the rating would have been higher if they weren’t playing opposite the games involving the men’s team.
The two UB women’s games had a higher rating locally than the first-round loss by Syracuse’s men’s team to Baylor. That game had a 2.6 local rating on TruTV.