I don’t know where the games are going to be played. I don’t know what teams are going to be involved but what I do know is that the NCAA March Madness Tournament is set to hold the First and Second Rounds on March 17-20, 2011. In addition the field has been extended to 68 from the current 65 where the "opening round" is essentially a play in game between 64 and 65. How this new change will affect the dates and times is yet to be determined. This change comes on the heals of a brand new TV deal that the NCAA is entering into with partners CBS and Turner (TBS and TNT) worth a reported $10.8 billion.
What this means for fans is The NCAA’s agreement with CBS and Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System Inc, which runs from 2011 through 2024 is that every game next March will be shown live on CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV this will mark the first time this will happen in the tournament’s 73-year history.
It looks like the partnership will morph over time to a similar set up to what NASCAR has with Fox and now ESPN/ABC (formerly dealing with NBC and TNT). Beginning in 2016, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner; the Final Four and the championship game will alternate every year between CBS and TBS. Under the agreement, the NCAA and CBSSports.com will again provide live streaming video of games, though Turner secured rights for any player it develops.
There was very heavy talks to expand to a 96-team field but that would have likely enveloped the 32-team NIT, the NCAA’s other, independently run season-ending tournament. and all but eliminated it. Sure it is less followed and less known, especially here in Canada. Sure it is the equivalent to a B Pool final but it is a little extra revenue for the NCAA, this may be the best of both worlds...at least for the time being.
Time to start planning vacation time around the tournament. Maybe not the play-in game but the first round I try to make my "Masters" a tradition Unlike Any Other!