A bigger NCAA tourney + more TV time = Happy dance

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If there truly are no dominant college basketball teams this season, March Madness could be more memorable than ever.

And for once, you may get to watch it all.

News broke Thursday that the NCAA’s new TV deal with CBS and Turner Sports will allow for more staggered starts of games, which means if one game’s closing in on a thrilling finish, the network won’t have to cut away from others to show it. Heh. Here’s me right now.

Games used to start within 10 minutes of each other, meaning that three or four could end at one time. Now, even those watching every game online or on multiple TVs don’t have to frantically flip back and forth.

“That wasn’t good enough,” said Turner Sports senior vice president Christina Miller. “What was going to be good enough was if we stagger it and let people catch each game or at least capture the big moments at the end of everything.”

Who knew the field of 68 would have a silver lining? (Still hard to seed the sucker, though.)

But, as Jonathan Tannewald over at Soft Pretzel Logic points out, it’ll still be tough for the networks to resolve their geography issues. From his blog:

One thing I find interesting is that the four networks get somewhat boxed into which games they can carry because of geography. For example, the 12:00 p.m. CBS tipoff on Thursday wouldn’t be at a western venue. It would almost certainly be at an eastern venue. Similarly, the 9:55 p.m. tipoff on truTV almost certainly would not be at an eastern venue.

The eight second- and third-round venues are Washington, Cleveland, Tampa, Charlotte, Chicago, Tulsa, Denver and Tucson. Rather unusually, the two westernmost venues are both Thursday sites, but none of the venues is in the Pacific Time Zone.

It’s a minor problem, but one to be considered for TV ratings, happy viewers, etc.

But if that’s the only problem, it’s shaping up to be fantastic March.

BONUS! Tannenwald did the heavy lifting and compiled the entire schedule of games by tip time and venue. I stole it for use below. In return, give the guy a follow on Twitter, will ya?

NCAA tournament schedule

Tuesday, March 15

6:30 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV
9 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV

Wednesday, March 16

6:30 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV
9 p.m.: First Round game at Dayton, truTV 

Thursday, March 17

Noon: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
12:30 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, truTV
1:30 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
2 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TNT

2:30 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
3 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, truTV
4 p.m.: Second round agme at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
4:30 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, TNT

6:45 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, TBS
7 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, truTV

9:15 p.m.: Second round game at Washington or Tampa, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
9:45 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
9:55 p.m.: Second round game at Denver or Tuscon, truTV

Friday, March 18

Noon: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
12:30 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, truTV
1:30 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
2 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TNT

2:30 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
3 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, truTV
4 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
4:30 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TNT

6:45 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, TBS
7 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
7:15 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, truTV

9:15 p.m.: Second round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, CBS
9:45 p.m.: Second round game at any venue, TNT
9:55 p.m.: Second round game at Chicago or Tulsa, truTV

Saturday, March 19

Noon: Third round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
2:30 p.m.: Third round game at Washington or Tampa, CBS
5 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
6 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT

7 p.m.: Third round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS
7:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
8 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT
9:30 p.m.: Third round game at Denver or Tuscon, TBS

Sunday, March 20

Noon: Third round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
2:30 p.m.: Third round game at Cleveland or Charlotte, CBS
5 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, CBS
6 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT

7 p.m.: Third round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS
7:30 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, truTV
8:00 p.m.: Third round game at any venue, TNT
9:30 p.m.: Third round game at Chicago or Tulsa, TBS

Thursday, March 24

7 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at New Orleans, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Anaheim, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at New Orleans, CBS
9:55 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Anaheim, TBS

Friday, March 25

7 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Newark, CBS
7:15 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at San Antonio, TBS
9:30 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at Newark, CBS
9:55 p.m.: Regional semifinal game at San Antonio, TBS

Saturday, March 26

4:20 p.m.: Regional final game at New Orleans or Anaheim, CBS
6:55 p.m.: Regional final game at New Orleans or Anaheim, CBS

Sunday, March 27

2:10 p.m.: Regional final game at Newark or San Antonio, CBS
4:55 p.m.: Regional final game at Newark or San Antonio, CBS

Saturday, April 2

6 p.m.: National semifinal at Houston, CBS
8:30 p.m.: National semifinal at Houston, CBS

Monday, April 4

9 p.m.: National championship game at Houston, CBS

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.