High Ratings for Duke in the Title Game

Monday's game boasted the highest TV rating for a national championship since 1999—another Duke game.

The thrilling matchup, the first time since 1989 that the game was decided by two points or fewer, was watched by an average of 16 percent of United States households in the top 56 television markets. That's more than both of North Carolina's wins this decade, including a 34 percent increase over the viewership of last year's Tar Heel win over Michigan State.

So, now, the inevitable question arises, especially among journalists with the conspiratorial bent: Does the NCAA and CBS want Duke in the Final Four?

Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock, for one, thinks so. "Duke is television ratings gold," he says, "and the NCAA is in the process of negotiating a new TV contract for its prized tournament."

His words, written three weeks ago, appear prophetic to those who believe in a CBS-NCAA-Duke conspiracy. The Blue Devils appear to bring instant ratings, due to their many fans and detractors, and the numbers back up his argument.

To actually believe this, though, is to court general ignorance.

The bottom line is, Duke did not cause Kansas to lose to Northern Iowa or Syracuse to lose to Butler. It also did had nothing to do with Kentucky's loss to West Virginia, a team the Blue Devils beat by 21. And to think that that is enough for a vast conspiracy involving CBS and the NCAA to ensure a path for a Blue Devil national championship appearance is to look at the world with delusional  eyes—it is to find connections and conspiracy where none are there.

If one really wants to be angry at the NCAA, focus not on a conspiracy that doesn't exist, but one that does. That will be the real story come next March.


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