In a perfect world, I would have just finished watching a tightly-contested battle between the nation's #1 and #3 teams, North Carolina and UCLA. Two of the best big men in the country, Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Love, would fight it out to the end, but my hunch is that the Tar Heels would have prevailed.
Does the fact that it would have been for third place really matter?
Forgive me if I'm feeling a bit of a letdown after Saturday's action, in which the teams I had predicted would meet in the championship fell at the hands of Memphis and Kansas. The Tigers and Jayhawks will make for an interesting game Monday night, and I look forward to watching it.
But don't you think the country deserves to watch a matchup between two of the most storied programs in college basketball, featuring two of the greatest college players in the past decade?
Here are five reasons to resurrect the third place game:
1. Everyone makes more money. The game would draw excellent television ratings -- in a year like this one, Sunday night ratings could exceed the ratings for a Monday night championship -- which means more advertisements, and in turn more money for the CBS network. Another game means more tickets to sell, too (see below).
2. It keeps the fans in town at least another day. Let's face it, if you're a Tar Heels fan, are you going to stick around and fork over the extra money to see Memphis and Kansas? But if you've got the chance to see Hansbrough leave on a high note, you'll make it happen. Host cities would love the third place game for the extra revenue.
3. One more team goes home happy. Love and Hansbrough will make millions in the NBA, but I'm sure either one would give their right arm to get a mulligan on yesterday's game. A third place game allows both teams that lost in the Final Four a shot at redemption, even though only one will actually get it.
4. There is a precedent. From 1946 to 1981, the NCAA held a consolation game for the losers of the Final Four. Don't ask me why they stopped, but don't say there aren't any grounds for having a third place game, either.
5. It keeps the momentum going. Two great games on Saturday, an off day Sunday, and the championship Monday. It just feels kind of weird to have the day off in between, wouldn't you say? It feels almost the same way as when the football world comes to a halt for the week leading up to the Super Bowl. A third place game allows the title contenders to have a day of rest, yet keeps the momentum going for the fans following the tournament to its conclusion.
So NCAA executives, if you're reading this, make the third place game happen!