Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

A Final Four To Remember


NCAA/Despite concerns that the NCAA championship game will not feature an attention grabbing headline (Butler – West Virginia is not a ratings dream for CBS), this Final Four will be memorable, both on and off the court.

For starters, this might be the last year of the current format for March Madness. What started as speculation of expansion of the beloved NCAA Tournament from 65 (including the initial play-in game) to 96 teams is gaining further momentum. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently told USA Today that the likelihood of expansion of the tournament for 2011 is “probable”.

The motivation behind this decision is financial as the television revenue of a larger tournament could yield even more than the existing 11-year, $6 billion dollar agreement the NCAA has with CBS. Delany helped in the negotiations of the current CBS agreement. On the court, Saturday’s games appear to be a great reflection of the close games mixed with underdog flair we’ve seen all tournament. #1 Duke will face #2 West Virginia with the winner expected to cruise to a national championship.

The Duke seniors have seen this team move deeper in the tournament each of the last four years and would love to graduate with a national championship. This is West Virginia’s first Final Four since 1959. Winning the Big East conference tournament was an unexpected surprise for West Virginia based on the perceived strength of the conference this season. With their success in the tournament, the Mountaineers appear to be the only Big East team worthy of their high seeding.