March Madness: 5 Reasons It Gets Better Ratings Than the NBA Playoffs

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIMarch 22, 2011

March Madness: 5 Reasons It Gets Better Ratings Than the NBA Playoffs

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    MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Guard Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 14, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or u
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    When March Madness comes around, the entire country fills out a bracket. Productivity in businesses across the country collectively decreases. It is a communal event, shared between sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

    When the NBA playoffs roll around, the nation yawns. The NBA is exciting to its fans, but a very specific group of people tunes in to watch the playoffs. It does not have the broad appeal of the NCAA tournament.

    Why is college basketball more popular?

The Bracket

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  A banner with the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament BRacket is seen during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Across America, sheets of paper with the same words on them make their way around offices. CBS Sportsline and Yahoo! start raking in more hits than ever before. Brackets infiltrate every aspect of life—and everyone fills them out.

    People who don't ordinarily follow college basketball fill out brackets. They begin to care about the outcomes of games and might even start watching the games. Everyone with a bracket cares about who wins because money is often on the line.

    In the NBA, hardcore gamblers might place bets on the eventual NBA champions, but few casual fans will. When the NBA begins to appeal to the average person as opposed to only hardcore fans, it will start to compete with the NCAA.

One and Done

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    WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  Andrew Smith #44 of the Butler Bulldogs puts up a shot against Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC. B
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    A single game is infinitely more exciting than a series. While a Game 7 often gets high ratings in the NBA playoffs, every NCAA game is do or die for each team involved. 

    A late-game run with a buzzer-beater is enough to send one team to the next round and the other back home. Shocks and memorable moments come when every game matters.

    In the NBA, a team can lose the first three games of the series, but it doesn't matter if it comes back to win.

    It's too slow-paced. Single-game elimination tournaments are magical.

Students, Alumni and School Loyalty

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    WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 06:  The student section of the UCLA Bruins point at the Kansas Jayhawks as they warm up on December 6, 2009 at Pauley Pavillion in Westwood, California.  Kansas won 73-61.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Fans are more loyal to college basketball teams than NBA teams. Many fans went to the schools they root for. The fanbases are far more localized than NBA teams that draw followings from entire regions.

    While all of New England might root for the Celtics, UConn fans are a distinct group from Boston College fans, and both are entirely different from Providence College fans.

    The passion for the game is tangible. A home game in college basketball gets loud—fast. Students and alumni alike feel a kinship with the players and want their school to win because it's a part of them.

Likeable Stars

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    WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates their 69-58 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    College players don't get paid—most of the time. This allows college basketball fans to believe that they are playing for the love of the game. Everyone plays hard because they care about their future—and ideally about their school.

    While LeBron James has taken flak for his decision to leave Cleveland for a better team in Miami, Kemba Walker has spent his entire career at UConn. Any decision to leave would have cost him a year in playing time.

    Loyalty is almost a requirement in the NCAA, and fans get attached to players, often for four years at a time.

Upset City

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Darrius Garrett #1 of the Richmond Spiders fights for a rebound aganst Kenneth Faried #35 of the Morehead State Eagles during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver,
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The NBA. It's where the expected happens. While some David will beat a Goliath in the NCAA tournament each year, in the NBA playoffs, there are few upsets.

    When there are any upsets at all, they are less dramatic. Even the last seed in the playoffs is often a good team that has beaten the best team in the league at some point in the season.

    Conference play in the NCAA makes it hard to compare mid-majors with power conference teams. Upsets are the reason the NCAA tournament is so popular, because when fans have no rooting interest in a game, they root for the underdog. They keep watching if the underdog wins.