Why CBS put UK-Louisville first
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KSR Senior Columnist
Posted Mar 29, 2012

The chairman of CBS Sports says it was not an easy call deciding whether to make Kentucky-Louisville or Ohio-State Kansas the first game Saturday

Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, says it was not an easy call deciding whether to make Kentucky-Louisville or Ohio-State Kansas the first game Saturday and put the other game in prime time. CBS Sports went with UK-Louisville at 6:09 p.m. and Ohio State-Kansas in the prime time spot about 9 p.m.

“That was a really, really close call. We talked about it a lot,” McManus said. “There was no right or wrong answer. Normally a marquee matchup decision comes easily. We thought that the Ohio State game on paper looked like it might be a closer game. Not to say we don’t think the Kentucky game will be close.

“We thought the geographical spread was a little better (for Ohio State-Kansas). The midwest brings an enormous amount of viewers to the TV set. But there was not any right or wrong answer. Obviously, Kentucky-Louisville has incredible story lines. It was really a tossup and we went with our gut and thought viewership might be a bit higher for the second game.

“But I can’t think of a Final Four with more marquee value. What certainly will determine the ratings this weekend is how close the games are.”

Jim Nantz, who has called the Final Four 27 times for CBS, knows everybody is saying this is a “coronation for Kentucky and odds are it wil be.” However, Nantz said he’s seen plenty of Final Four upsets and rattled off a long list of games.

“There has been too many times when the favorite did not win. There is no foregone conclusion (that Kentucky will win),” he said.

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