Who cares if the Men's Final Four gets bad ratings?
Are you counting on a CBS check or something?
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Because I felt like feeling bad about myself for a second, I just checked the bracket I submitted to our office pool. I got exactly one team correct in my Elite Eight (Texas). I think I picked Drake to beat Miami in the first round. I am not good at this.
My one consolation is that most of America is also not particularly good at this. If you had Florida Atlantic, San Diego State, UConn and Miami in your Final Four, please consult your relevant ecclesiastical authority, because you’re a big stinkin’ liar.
Personally, I think this Final Four is pretty cool. We’re going to get a team outside the Power Six in the national championship game. We get UConn, who had been one of the best teams in the country this season, and also brings a bit of Blue Blood-ish flair. You’ve got Miami, the team that grabbed all the NIL headlines. Duke isn’t involved. This is new! It’s fun!
But not everybody sees is that way. I’ve seen several variations of this #take over the last 36 hours:
Love the Final 4 and will watch obviously but when you have FAU and SDSU it’s gonna be very tough to give those guys airtime all week.
Duke - UNC this ain’t.
No Creighton blows 😞
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre)
Mar 26, 2023
We’ve had two draining, entertaining, give-us-more weeks of March Madness. But there’s one problem with an AutoFill Final Four: you can’t have a David without a Goliath. My column:
— Ivan Maisel (@Ivan_Maisel)
Mar 27, 2023
I love Ivan, but I can’t disagree more with this line of thinking.
This is unquestionably a unique Final Four. There are no McDonald’s All-Americans playing in it. There might not even be a single First Round NBA Draft Pick in it, (Jordan Hawkins of UConn appears to be a late 1st rounder on most mock drafts right now). Three of the four teams have never made a Final Four before. Hell, FAU had never won an NCAA Tournament game before.
If you can’t find any interesting storylines there, or a compelling reason to tune it, I would humbly submit that the problem isn’t with brand names or logos. That seems like a pretty interesting story to me, and I’m a college basketball casual.
It’s entirely possible that the ratings for the Final Four won’t be what they were last year, when UNC and Duke played in Coach K’s final tournament, or when other Final Fours were loaded with NBA talent. Who cares?
There are 15,000 of you that are subscribed to this newsletter, and by my math, 14,996 of you don’t get direct checks from CBS. The value of NCAA Tournament Units will not quadruple next year if the ratings are excellent. You, dear reader, are probably not trying to buy ads against the broadcast. So who cares if the number is a little smaller?
Forget about the logo on the jersey for a second. Let weirdos like me worry about TV ratings and What That Means For Serious Professional Sports Businesses. In my humble opinion, just enjoy the games for what they are. And if you want to go, I hear good tickets are available.
I’m not as much of a college basketball stathead as I am a college football guy, so I’m still open to arguments here, but I’m not sure what #narrarative I’m supposed to believe re: roster composition for this Final Four.
For as much digital ink has been spilled over NIL and transfers, FAU and San Diego State are in the Final Four. Neither squad is bolstered by a billionaire donor or a massive NIL collective. San Diego State’s main roster is transfer-heavy, but FAU’s isn’t.
Miami, pretty famously, had NIL front and center in their roster construction over the summer, a template that several other programs followed….programs that aren’t in the Final Four right now.
Is Miami the way of the future? Is San Diego State, a roster full of 22-year-olds, the future? Is it FAU? Or UConn, who just recruited a bunch of excellent players?
I think it’s probably way too early to say, and a single-elimination tournament introduces way too much variance to build a narrative around, even though I know the #takes #must #flow.
Personally, I’d love it if the main takeaway here is that there are, in fact, multiple paths toward building an elite college basketball team…but I don’t know if that will end up being true or not. I’m very interested in your thoughts and arguments.
One other thing I want to share is a video that dropped last week. A few months ago, folks at More Perfect Union approached me about potentially shooting an explainer about NIL, its challenges, and how college sports got to this point.
I don’t have a ton of experience writing video scripts, but I agreed. That video is now live, which you can see here:
It’s hard to cram all the nuance this subject deserves into a ten-minute video, especially one aimed for non-Extra Points readers, but I did my best.
I don’t think NIL has “broken” college basketball, or any college sport, and I absolutely believe it is an improvement from where college sports were say, ten years ago. Athletes are earning more money, have more agency, and have access to more social capital under this system than they had before….I think that’s easily a net positive.
But, and this is just my personal opinion, I don’t think NIL has ‘solved’ problems with college athlete exploitation, and in some ways, has created new ones. This video helps explain why…and maybe it can be something you share with non-industry friends who have questions about how this whole operation works ahead of the Final Four.
If you have ideas for future Extra Points newsletters or #tips you want to share, our new tips line is [email protected]. To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email [email protected]. I'm also @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.