Dig Baton Rouge

Stop the madness: The NCAA Tournament is more entertaining without upsets

Feel free to call me a fun sponge.

Feel free to call me a hater.

I think March Madness is better when all of Cinderella’s glass slippers are blown to smithereens in the opening rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

I don’t like upsets in the Big Dance. I never have and never will.

Sure, it’s fun for a while when David beats Goliath and everyone’s bracket gets blown to bits. If you really think about it, however, the entire thing is a little bit like an all you can eat Chinese food buffet, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

After that initial excitement wears off of endless eggrolls, fried rice and noodles, you just end up with a bellyache. That, and then hours of suffering.

It’s the same in March Madness. Once the sizzle of that No. 14 seed beating the No. 3 wears off, all that’s left is suffering for the fans that care to watch the rest of the tournament and then the Final Four.

What I mean is this: sure, the unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament is awesome – it’s why college basketball is relevant as a sport in our country. The fact that any team – even the best in the country – can be eliminated on any given night is intriguing and must-see TV.

But is it really good when the so-called “bad” teams win and the powerhouse teams lose? I say no. I say that the tournament is at its peak when the traditional powers lock horns in the Final Four. As sports fans, we claim all of the time that we want to see the little man rise up and become champion, but truthfully, that’s a flat-out lie.

History shows that sports fans are gravitated to dynasties and traditional powers. They’re the teams that we’re most attracted to and consume the most of as fans.

It’s why the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are the most watched teams in the NBA. It’s why the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees are worldwide brands, despite recent success. Sports fans enjoy a winner, and we enjoy seeing the biggest fish swim against one another in the same pond with all of the chips on the table.

It’s no different in March Madness. What’s better for a fan in any given March?

Is it watching Duke play Kentucky in one Final Four matchup with North Carolina and Kansas locked in the other? Or is it an upset-riddled semifinal that features Wichita State, Butler, Gonzaga and Northern Iowa?

I’d care to venture that we’d all rather see the first scenario in real life.

It’s fun to see Cinderella win a game or two here and there, but the true ideal fate for the lower-seeded teams is to be crushed so that we can watch the best teams and best players square off in the best games.

It’s an unpopular opinion to have because we’re so obsessed with the upsets and the madness that is the NCAA Tournament, but it’s the opinion of the majority – even if folks are afraid to admit it. Television ratings back that the most-watched Final Fours are those loaded with higher-seeded, well-known programs.

Let’s face it: No one wants to see VCU or Stephen F. Austin play. If they did, those schools would average more than just a few thousand per game in attendance. Likewise, no one is itching to watch Arkansas Little Rock play, either.

Give me Duke. Give me North Carolina. Give me the big wigs.

I’ll talk chalk over a bunch of teams filled with players I’ve never heard of any day.

But that’s just me.


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