Wine'm, Dine'm, 68'm

via rlv.zcache.com

Well that's surprising.  In it's announcement about renewing their TV contract with CBS & Turner Sports, the NCAA also mentioned that they will likely be expanding the tournament to 68 teams, not the 96-team behemoth that was assumed.  Of course, that doesn't mean the 96-team tourney won't still happen. It just means the NCAA is going to roll things out a little slower than expected.

Personally, I think it's perfect.  In fact, I've always said this was the logical next step for the tournament ("I'm Sean Keeley and the 68-team NCAA Tournament was my idea.").  All of a sudden that Tuesday play-in game is now Play-In Tuesday, it's own mini-event before the big show.  And that's three less bubble teams whining about being left out.

My guess?  The NCAA needs a couple years to really figure out how the 96-team tournament will work.  They'll probably end up squashing the N.I.T. (or merging it into that first weekend) and there's a lot of logistics involved here.  They've given themselves another year to try and work out the kinks before expanding again, which I assume they will.  Too much money on the table for them not to.

As for the TV deal, I don't like to agree with Gregg Doyel often but he makes a great point.

March Madness stays on CBS. Which means, no Dick Vitale. Which means, no mute button.

The deal also means you'll be able to watch every game live on TV, no more switching back and forth.  Assuming you have truTV, that is.

The NCAA's new, 14-year agreement with CBS and Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System Inc. runs from 2011 through 2024. It means that every game next March will be shown live — on CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV — for the first time in the tournament's 73-year history.

Beginning in 2016, TBS even gets a shot to host the Final Four.  TBS!  First Conan and now this.  I don't know think you can do things like buy stock in TBS, but I would buy stock in TBS if I were you.

Of course, because every game will be available live, that spells the end for March Madness On Demand, which, would be a huge blow to the millions of people pretending to work on Thursday and Friday.  However, Turner will be developing its own version of the March Madness on Demand online player, which seems like a lot of extra work to me, but, whatever.  As long as it's free, I don't care.

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