Confusing scheduling clouds magnificent weekend of college hoops

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20: Rodney the Ram, mascot for the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, cheers in the first half of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Decision-makers might toy with the format in an effort to thicken their wallets, but the underlying theme will always remain the same: You just can't mess up the NCAA tournament.

That doesn't mean CBS and the NCAA aren't trying, however.

After the time-tested, rapid-fire onslaught of games we have grown to expect on Thursday and Friday, CBS baffled fans everywhere when it released its weekend schedule. Instead of staggering the start-times to give viewers a measured dose of hoops throughout the day, the emphasis was instead placed on primetime timeslots. Don't worry, you aren't the only one out there who is pissed off about this. Take a gander at these tip-off times:

Saturday (ET)
Sunday (ET)
12:15 12:15
3:02 2:45
5:15 5:15
6:10 6:10
7:10 7:10
7:57 7:40
9:05 8:40
9:55 9:40

 

From a business standpoint the reliance on favorable timeslots makes sense. But CBS doesn't need to use Stone Age tactics to pull in viewers. This is the freakin' NCAA tournament we're talking about here. Trust me, people aren't going to willingly miss these games, regardless of what time they come on. And in a way, that's precisely where CBS has us by the balls. If they want fans waking up at 9:00 am, then we're going to set our alarms, grab some coffee, and get it done.

The inclusion of truTV, TNT, and TBS, by my count, was a resounding success for the first two days. But that's where it needs to end. With only eight games apiece on Saturday and Sunday, what legitimate purpose does truTV serve at this point? Remember, we're talking about fitting eight two-hour games into a ten-hour block in the most logical way possible. This process is not even close to rocket science, and yet with the way CBS executes it, that's exactly what it feels like.

So instead of giving viewers a significant look at every game, CBS gave us two marquee contests in the afternoon and then tossed the remaining six together in overlapping fashion at night. Then they did it again on Sunday. The rest, apparently, was up to us and our ability to cycle through channels. Brilliant. A mind-numbing decision like this is sure to evoke a fitting four-letter response from the masses: F-A-I-L.

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