Don’t buy into the Madness |

Don’t buy into the Madness

Column by Steve Yingling

Just say no.

For years now boxing’s biggest fights have been sold to the public on pay-per-view. Instead of shelling out $20 or $30 at a convention center, these title bouts can be purchased in the home for $50 or $60. Reason enough to throw a party with cheap admission, but not the freebie sports fans are accustomed to.

Direct TV has been selling us a full slate of NFL games for the past two seasons. Tired of watching the 49ers’ secondary getting burned, a few Benjamin Franklins will get you the rights to a full slate of games for 17 Sundays. Imagine the theater next season of watching the Buccaneers go through their three-headed interception monster of Brad Johnson, Ryan Leaf and Shaun King?

But pay-per-view has gone too far this March. Direct TV is actually looking for the March maniacs to pay $49 to receive up to 37 more games during the first few rounds of the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Even Dick Vitale wouldn’t buy this one.

If we continue to pay for these traditionally free events, it’s only a matter of time before we’re buying the rights to watch the Masters or Indianapolis 500.

* * *

A Bronx cheer goes out to CBS.

For some reason the network, which will broadcast the tournament over the next month, has forgotten that the 65-team spectacle starts tonight.

Northwestern State vs. Winthrop probably has as much appeal an XFL rerun, but wouldn’t CBS be there if UCLA and Duke were meeting in the play-in game?

It’s bad enough that these small conference champions no longer have automatic spots in the 64-team field, but now they’re being treated worse than NIT qualifiers.

If you want to catch the whole tournament, then tune into TNN at 5 p.m. today to see who earns the right to play top-seeded Illinois.

* * *

Like everyone else, I’ve been poring through any special section I can get my hands on to find an edge for the office pool.

But the best information I’ve read in the past 24 hours is that a No. 16 seed has yet to beat a No. 1 seed and no team lower than an 11th seed has ever advanced to the Final Four.

If you’re looking for the best source for picking a champ in recent years, go to the mouth himself, Vitale. Vitale has picked the past two national champions prior to the season. This year, the head-bobbing, hand-gesturing Vitale likes Duke to win it all, with Maryland, Arizona and Michigan State joining the Blue Devils in the Final Four.

Just to be different, I’ll take a near-all-ACC Final Four featuring Maryland, North Carolina, Duke and Arizona. Maryland will upset Duke in the semifinals and topple North Carolina for its first national title.

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