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Upsets upset NCAA television ratings

Everyone loves upsets in the NCAA Tournament, but they are a mixed blessing at best for CBS.

On one hand, they generate excitement and interest. On the other, no matter how much you say you love the likes of Saint Mary's, Northern Iowa, Butler and Cornell, the reality is brand-name teams draw better ratings in the Sweet 16 and beyond.

Cornell-Kentucky figures to generate good ratings for its sheer funkiness. But Baylor vs. Saint Mary's? Not so much.

Even with all the excitement of a riveting first two rounds, ratings were down slightly, averaging 5.3 percent of homes compared with 5.4 percent last year.

Speaking of upsets, of 5.4 million brackets submitted for ESPN.com's tournament challenge, four had 15 of the Sweet 16 correct. None had all 16. I hope that makes you feel better.

Dome home for Cornell?

With Cornell located just down the road and Kentucky fans as willing to travel as any in the nation, the NCAA East Regional in Syracuse is setting up as the weekend's toughest ticket.

Last week, prices for the Carrier Dome trailed the West Regional in Salt Lake City on FanSnap.com, which tracks a variety of secondary ticket-sellers.

Then Cornell thumped both Temple and Wisconsin, and as of early yesterday, the average price for the two sessions in Syracuse was $383, highest among the four regions.

Yikes. This is a bit of a shock for someone who attended Cornell in an era when basketball games began at 6 in hopes fans on the way to an 8 o'clock hockey game might stop in for a few minutes out of curiosity.

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