NCAA Chooses Final Four Sites For 2023 Through 2026

Each Final Four will alternate television coverage between CBS and TBS

On Monday, the NCAA voted during their annual summer meeting in Boston to have these cities again host the Final Four in the following years:

  • 2023, Houston.  NRG Stadium will host for the third time since 2011, and it will be the fifth time that Texas city will play host (the other was 1971 at the old Astrodome in the middle of the UCLA dynasty).  CBS
  • 2024, Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona.  The University of Phoenix Stadium will be back again, after North Carolina outlasted Gonzaga in 2017.  TBS, with complete Bleacher Stream coverage on TNT and TruTV (or whatever channel names will be designated at that time).
  • 2025, San Antonio.  The proud Alamodome has been a popular site, complete with the Riverwalk and Alamo Museum nearby.  Coming off their fifth hosting of the NCAA’s crowning jewel event this past spring, it also hosted the Final Four in 1998, 2004, and 2008.  They will also host the 2022 South Regional.  When CBS televises that year, San Antonio will join Kansas City, Indianapolis, Louisville, New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle to have hosted it five times.
  • 2026, Indianapolis.  Lucas Oil Stadium will also play host again in 2021, since they are on the five-year rotation as the NCAA Headquarters host city.  What began at the old Market Square Arena in 1980 led a few blocks west to the old Hoosier/RCA Dome for memorable Final Fours contested in 1991, 1997, 2000, and 2006.  Lucas Oil Stadium also hosted the finals in 2010 and 2015.  The Circle City has also hosted various rounds of the Tournament dating back to 1940.  Indianapolis will also play host to the 2020 Midwest Regional.  Only the old NCAA Headquarters site of Kansas City has played to more marquee games, which hosted a record ten Final Fours between the years 1940 to 1988.  TBS

Cities that lost out in the bidding process according to the NCAA’s press release were Los Angeles (the yet unfinished Inglewood Stadium to host the Rams and Chargers beginning with the 2020 NFL season), Detroit, and North Texas/Arlington.

To refresh your memory, here are the next three years:

2019, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis CBS

2020, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta TBS with complete Bleacher Stream coverage

2021, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis CBS

2022, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans TBS with complete Bleacher Stream coverage

In separate news last Friday (July 13)…

Kevin White, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Duke will be the 2019-2020 chairperson of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.  White will be Vice Chair this coming year when the lead chair will be held by Bernard Muir, currently the Director of Athletics for Stanford University.


Conference USA Revises Conference Schedule, More Schools Could Follow Suit

Radical end of season slate will see last four games resemble mini-tournaments

I have a small question:

Why do most of the Power 5 Conferences end up earning the higher seeds each March?
Simple, those universities have four times the money than the mid-majors (outside of Gonzaga).

After glancing over a pair of articles by Nick Martin from the Deadspin website, I am hoping deep down this subject this will eventually catch on across the country.

In fact, Conference USA will be taking the first bold steps.

Instead of having a hard 18 game conference schedule each January and February which feeds into their annual conference tournament, the first 14 such games will determine the seeding of those 8 teams (1 vs. 8, 4 vs. 5, 3 vs. 6, and 2 vs.7 for those of you scoring at home).

The thinking behind this, according to most of the coaches in the C-USA is they wish to have more “units” (or blocks of money) to help out with helping their school in whatever areas they need the most help with (upkeep of facilities, extra scholarship funds, etc.).

The difference behind this different scheduling procedure, you may ask?
We could be seeing possibly those schools bumping upwards in the RPI and earning extra victories in the “Quadrant 1 or 2” column that could peg them possibly being slotted as either a 11 or 12 seed, instead of the usual 14 or 15 seeds they have been stuck in mostly since the 1990’s.

Sounds radical to me on the surface, but hopefully this will create a ripple effect so other conferences could join down the road.  The Sun Belt for one, nixed the idea and is not interested at this time.  Figure also possibly the same for the SWAC and other smaller conferences, but places like St. Louis could be slow in embracing this concept because Arch Madness has proven to be so successful for CBS and CBS Sports Network, who are both in the middle of a 10 year deal broadcasting the final two days of one of the early conference tournaments during the first weekend in March.

To read both articles, please tap or click your browsers to the links below:





2008 Tournament Redux, Part Four

We close out my annual Tournament Flashback with the 12 seed of Villanova (yes, you read that right) when they opened their 2008 Tournament run against the 5 seed of Clemson.  The Tigers were an up-and-down streaky team in the SEC, but somehow got some late love from the Selection Committee as they were hoping not to make the wrong end of history late on the first Friday night to close out the First Round.

With Villanova upending Clemson by a score of 75-69, it marked the first time since the expansion of the tournament field in 1985 that saw four double digit seeds emerge into the second round.

Scottie Reynolds proved to be too much and thanks to some very sloppy play in the second round, Siena’s dream ended in Round Two by an 84-72 count.  Villanova would go on to lose to the eventual champions of Kansas during the Sweet 16 round.

Sadly, nobody on YouTube uploaded that over two hour plus broadcast.

Thank you for reading my flashback blogs over these past four days.  I will see you all again sometime next week as we are four months away from another season tipping off from coast to coast.  Please enjoy the rest of your 4th of July holiday with this special Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure (and I invite you all to play Sleater-Kinney as loud as the fireworks so you won’t have to hear them on a near constant basis):



2008 Tournament Redux, Part Three

Prime Time on a Friday night, there was nothing better than what took place in March 2008.

The Midwest pod featured a classic David vs. Goliath matchup:

Another 13 seed in Siena taking on the 4 seed of Vanderbilt.

Thankfully, one of the players from that upset named Tay Fisher pulled together some brief highlights since nobody else has managed to upload the entire two hour plus broadcast:

One final upset will be chronicled on the big holiday.  See you all tomorrow with Villanova making history against Clemson.

2008 Tournament Redux, Part Two

A very brief recap of the second game from that Friday day session in Tampa, Florida.  People expecting to see the longtime soap opera Guiding Light were surprised to find out that the double digit upset theme continued on two fronts:

First, the country got to know Stephen Curry of Davidson when he poured in 30 of his game high 40 points to eliminate Gonzaga, the 7 seed that year in the East on the campus of North Carolina State in Raleigh.

Meanwhile back in Tampa, the 13 seed of San Diego was locked in a tight battle with the 4 seed of the powerful UConn Huskies.

We pick up the action midway through the first half:

As we all remember the following Sunday, the first ever 12/13 second round matchup went in favor of Western Kentucky.  However, the Hilltoppers run to the title ended at the hands of UCLA in the Sweet 16 round.  The Bruins would cap it off making their third straight Final Four appearance.

2008 Tournament Rewind, Part One

2008 was the year when Barack Obama emerged from a crowded field in the Democratic Party and would eventually become President.  At around the same time, NBC showed off the Briefcase Gals from the hit game show Deal or No Deal holding trash cans, wearing X-Men costumes, and doing a pair of spring break episodes that had more than the guys’ hearts racing.

Speaking briefly, as if I did not want to feel guilty of tooting my own horn…but this is what I said on the afternoon of March 16, 2017:

“3:12 p.m.  In tribute to Waddle and Silvy’s sometimes popular weekly ESPN Chicago radio segment, “Would You Rather”–

Would you rather see Press Your Luck or Deal or No Deal be another past game show that gets a reboot?  Each game requires a lot of luck, skill, and daring.  Going back over a quarter century ago, the formerly weird Whammy dominated screens via animation and taking people’s money away in the 1980’s.  And of course, it was the Briefcase Gals holding anywhere from one million dollars down to our lowest denomination of one Lincoln penny.”
Little did I know but NBC Universal Media Village came out with this press release from May 15, as for the first time since May 2009:
Not too far away from the Universal Orlando Resort, history of a different kind took place during the First Round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
It all started at the St. Pete Times Forum (later renamed as the Amalie Arena) in Tampa, Florida on Friday, March 21 as the 12 seed of Western Kentucky took on the 5 seed in another mid-major power from Iowa and Drake University.
It turned out to be a classic.
Tim Brando and Mike Gminski had the call:

The ACC Coaches Want The NCAA Tournament To Expand To 72 Teams–I Am Not Buying Into It

Consensus reached during annual Conference spring meeting

When Hall of Fame coaches discuss the inner goings on in men’s college basketball, how would you like to be a fly on the wall when a Mike Kryzyzewski mixes things up with a Roy Williams, or a Jim Boeheim sharing some anecdotes alongside Mike Brey?  I bet there would be some interesting conversations, to say the least.

One of the points from their spring meeting earlier this week brought up the fact that the lane should be widened to the lane commonly used in the NBA.  I agree with them on this particular point, simply because play inside the paint is both ugly and bothersome to watch on any given night.  When the referees try to call a charge, is the defender inside the circle and did they get their feet properly set in time?  I can recall on one hand how many games were decided because of one blown call, only for the referees to later admit in postgame press conferences that they were wrong after the fact.

However, one major point that I vehemently disagree on is them trying to lobby the NCAA to expand the Tournament again–this time from the current 68 schools to a mind blogging 72 teams.

CBS Sports reporters/podcast hosts Matt Norlander and Garry Parrish went into a over 20 minute long discussion about the positive and mostly negative points regarding the addition of four extra Opening Round games.

The only positive thing could be for the head coaches and the schools themselves receiving a decent share of the NCAA Tournament pool of money for each Tournament win.  You would also have a second venue of games to be played around the similar timeframe that we have seen on TruTV since 2011 from Dayton, Ohio.  We may not be too far away from possibly having TBS (or dare I say CBS) bring you two games on the first Tuesday and Wednesday from say, the really nice arena on the campus of South Dakota State or Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho–or if the NCAA relaxes some of their championship hosting criteria thanks to the Supreme Court ruling on May 14, maybe just maybe Orleans Arena in Las Vegas could be a host site.

With Expansion Comes Many Pitfalls, The Biggest Of Which Is Quality of Play

We have seen this before in years past in the pro sports, namely in baseball with the 1962 New York Mets, 1977 Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays, and 1993 in the Mile High City with the Colorado Rockies.  The NBA had Johnny “Red” Kerr lead the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs following their first season playing at the old International Amphitheatre in 1966-1967.  In the NFL, the best example was the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went winless before winning finally in 1977.

In the land of pucks, NHL hockey has been the exception rather than the norm, especially with the Las Vegas Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Finals exactly 50 years when the first major expansion from the Golden Six era saw the St. Louis Blues reach the 1968 Stanley Cup Finals.

My point being is that if the NCAA at some point might be thinking of expanding the tournament, it is going to be so watered down in terms of quality of play that those games may not be worth plucking out a few bucks on your favorite gambling website.

There were two reasons why the Tournament expanded from their popular 64 team model in 2001 and the current expansion to 68 a decade later in 2011.

The 65th team was added due to the creation of the Mountain West Conference in the simple fact that they have a conference postseason tournament.

The other three schools were added basically from the official NCAA seed list.  Thankfully, they revised the rules which state that the last eight schools listed get to automatically play at Dayton–four conference champions with the worst records, namely from the SWAC and Sun Belt Conferences, and the four marginal at-large teams from Power 5 Conferences.

If four more schools are added, fans will more than likely see the second place team from the Missouri Valley or the seventh best team from the Big Ten, or the ninth best team from the ACC get an invite.  Those schools typically have barely over .500 records overall, a good but not great record during conference play like 10-8 or 9-9, but fail to get past the second round in their own conference tournaments.  The RPI’s usually end up being between 70 and 95, give or take a few slots.

Bottom line, those teams should go to the NIT, CIT, CBI, or whatever named tournament is out there for marginal teams that are 100 and below in the NCAA’s general pecking order.

I have heard countless stories from many coaches that had to play the Opening Round games in Dayton.  They came away unimpressed by the facilities and the lack of restaurant options within walking distance of Dayton Arena.  And I agree on one simple fact, trying to watch the so-called First Four games on TruTV–normally a channel reserved for idiotic, crass, and simply stupid reality TV shows–it is not what the NCAA Tournament is about.

Sure, President Barack Obama tried to teach then British Prime Minister David Cameron about the inner workings of the sport a few years ago.  In the end, just look at the ratings.  They are nowhere near what CBS, TBS, and TNT have done since the four network region setup replaced the CBS regional model in 2011.

Although the one positive thing that the NCAA can bank on is that every year that they have played four games in Dayton, one of the First Four winners has had at least one extra Tournament win–with VCU proving everybody wrong in 2011 using their First Four appearance leading to a surprise Final Four berth before finally losing to Butler in Houston.

Bottom line, the television contracts are in the billions of dollars.  With money changing hands faster than ever, I would not be at all surprised if the tournament expanded sometime during the next decade.  The current deal with CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV to cover the Big Dance continues until the year 2032.

In my true heart of hearts after hearing that particular podcast, I am fine with the tournament the way it is.  Sadly, the NCAA will not be going back to the 64 team model that gave the sports its’ greatest personality and many fun times during the exclusive CBS era.  The only reason I could see if expansion could work is that the schools want that chance to earn extra money–money that could be used to improve facilities on campus and/or help with certain professor/staff salaries.

Hopefully, the NCAA will think twice about this before committing to it.

And as Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr said while as a player during the 1997 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls pep rally in Grant Park,

“That is my story, and I am sticking to it.”

You can find the podcast on Apple, iTunes, and Google Play, just search for CBS Sports Eye On College Basketball.