March Madness 2011: Why Ted Turner Has Given Fans the Best Buzzer-Beater of All

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March Madness 2011: Why Ted Turner Has Given Fans the Best Buzzer-Beater of All

You may like him. You may hate him. But after watching this year's coverage of the NCAA tournament, you will probably want to give him a big sloppy kiss.

As many NCAA basketball fans are probably aware, this year's coverage is not just on CBS, and you don't have to pay extra to see all of the games, as Turner has bought the rights so that all games can be televised nationally for the first time ever.

Turner Sports made the agreement last year with the NCAA, a 14-year, $10.8 billion mega deal to bring the tournament nationally to everyone.

Pretty much every fan already knows this already, as they are most surely watching the early tip-offs as this column is written, but why was this deal so important to basketball fans?

The first thing that was contingent in the Turner deal was that the tournament stay at 68 teams and not 96. Rumors swirled that when ESPN was bidding against the Turner/CBS combo, that was something it wanted.

Ninety-six is just watered down. Imagine the NIT and NCAA tournament teams being combined. Realistically, how many of the NIT teams would beat NCAA tourney teams?

Another big win in the Turner deal is that there is no longer a pay-per-view necessity for the most serious of college fans. As long as you have basic cable, you should get to see every game in the opening, second and third rounds.

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Finally, the deal allowed Turner and CBS to stagger the start times of the games. Now, later on in the day, when the first No. 12 seed is a buzzer-beater away from the win, you won't have the need to switch it over to the 8-9 matchup that is also going down to the wire.

The four-channel lineup allows start times to average 30 minutes apart, allowing every game to have the allotted time to finish before the next one.

The bottom line is that this is a serious game-changer for the tournament, and for the better. There was talk of ESPN possibly keeping some type of pay-per-view package similar to what it does for the college football season. Ted Turner and his big-time dollars saved us from this.

Today and tomorrow, when you see one great finish after another and do not have to look at split screens and cross your fingers that both games don't finish at the same time, say a little thank you to billionaire Ted.

And if you are celebrating St. Patty's Day, have a green beer for him and your favorite team.

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