It used to be that the NCAA national title game was such an event that it would usually have the whole night to itself.
But that isn't the case tonight when Butler and Duke tip off (CBS, 9 p.m.) Virtually every show running tonight has a new episode, which perhaps speaks to the diminishing popularity of the tournament.
And, if the NCAA puts in a new plan to expand the field from 65 teams to 96, it would just about kill the sport, not make it more interesting, which is what the NCAA and the networks think.
Consider this year: More upsets took place in this tournament than any in recent memory, a testament to the parity in college basketball today. Even though many expected Duke to make it to the finals, having Butler there is a complete shock.
But while that make for some exciting games, it also busted so many people's brackets that my guess is that people didn't follow along very closely once Kansas and other highly ranked teams were knocked out so early. The brackets are one of the draws of the tournament.
Having 96 teams there makes picking a bracket much more challenging to the point where it's no longer fun.
Not to mention that making it 96 teams virtually diminishes the value of the regular season and the league title games. Yes, every year there are a few teams that get screwed, such as Mississippi State, which was likely Team No. 66 and certainly deserving to make the tournament. Yet with all of the upsets in this years NCAAs, one can't make the argument that Miss. State was better than some of the lower seeded teams that ended up knocking off the big-time programs.
Had the 96-team field been in place, yes, teams like Miss. State and others would have easily made it to the NCAAs. But it would have made the SEC regular season and tournament meaningless for the exact same reason, since there is no pressure on teams to win the automatic bid.
That was evident this year with our own Mercer University, which made it to the finals of the A-Sun tournament on its own court before barely losing in the conference title game. With the NCAA bid on the line and nothing but a potential NIT bid for the loser, that game had a lot of meaning for people here, even if the Bears did lose. In a 96-team field? Not so much.
You can have too much of a good thing and 96 teams is way too much for a sport that is losing casual viewers like me, because few college players who have any sort of talent stay for more than a year anymore, making the sport difficult to follow.
If you want to expand the field, make it 68 by adding three more play-in games. That way, the brackets really aren't affected but you add in three bubble teams.
Otherwise, the NCAAs are about to kill the golden goose.
'ELLEN' BACK IN MIDDLE GEORGIA: I was out of town last week but got a message from Fox 24 GM Keith True, who told me that his station picked up the area broadcast rights for the syndicated series "Ellen," which split the week before from WPGA. True said WGXA Fox 24 will start broadcasting "Ellen" weekdays at 6 p.m., beginning tomorrow.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: So, because I was with my parents last week, I ended up watching "24" (Fox, 8-10 p.m.) and boy, was I not disappointed that I had stopped watching. I thought the Katee Sackhoff subplot was dumb during the season premiere, but playing out the latest mole story yet again is not only tiresome, but pointless. I mean, she kills Stephen Root at CTU but doesn't kill her ex-boyfriend when she had the chance early on? And she's carrying on a phone conversation with a terrorist while right in the middle of the control room? Not to mention yet another "24" president picking a cabinet that betrays her during the middle of a crisis. I read an interview with Howard Gordon last week, since apparently a lot of the dedicated fans are complaining about the Sackhoff subplot. He said having a CTU mole is practically a tradition and that the fans expect it. Um, no, Howard -- the fans are expecting plot twists that aren't non-sensical and insulting to people's intelligence.
If you want to see Sackhoff in a less-annoying role, CBS is rerunning her appearance on "Big Bang Theory," followed by a new "Rules of Engagement" from 8-9 p.m.
"Chuck" (NBC, 8 p.m.) follows last week's awesome episode with the conclusion of a cliffhanger. It's followed by a new "Trauma."
ABC has two hours of "Dancing With The Stars" at 8 p.m., followed by a new "Castle" at 10 p.m.
The CW has new episodes of "Life Unexpected" and "Gossip Girl" from 8-10 p.m.
On cable, "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) picks up with the arrest of a key witness for Patty.
On Showtime, there are new episodes of "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara" from 10-11 p.m.
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