Ross: NCAA should bring back consolation games in March Madness

Mar 23, 2023, 9:05 AM | Updated: Mar 27, 2023, 6:36 am


Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (5) shoots against Maryland guard Ian Martinez (23) during the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the men's NCAA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Let me introduce you to a KIRO listener and March Madness superfan.

“I’m J. Paul Blake. My high school team in my junior year was, in fact, the number one high school team in the United States — Weequahic High School back in Newark, New Jersey.”

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And he went on to attend Drake University, which in 1969 came so close…

“I attended my first Final Four in 1969 at Louisville when my university — Drake University — nearly upset UCLA,” Blake said.

The key word being nearly, but back then, there was a consolation game in the NCAA tournament, so Drake got to play again. And that’s why J. Paul wrote to me saying that the NCAA needs to bring the bronze back, and he felt so strongly about this I said, you should write a commentary. So he did.

“Last weekend’s men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournament opening round game featured major upsets. March Madness is back. Basketball fans can expect a thrilling, potentially buzzer-beating championship game, with the winners cutting down the nets,” Blake said.

“Unfortunately, what fans can’t expect is a third-place consolation game. That game was eliminated after the men’s 1981 Final Four. Consolation games are favored by some but criticized by others who believe they serve little purpose and lack interest.

“Supporters, myself included, feel the consolation games allow teams to play one more time after having invested so much effort in the quest for a championship, not to mention the opportunity for semi-finalists and supporters to salvage some competitive pride.

“I believe there would be interest in a consolation game in view of the quality of men’s and women’s college basketball today.

“More fans of the semifinal losing teams would remain in the host cities for the title game preceded by the consolation game, the host city would realize greater revenue and exposure.

“Sure, it’s not gold, but no one balks at a bronze medal in the Olympics. So why not play a third-place game in the NCAA division one basketball tournaments.

“If soccer’s World Cup, the world’s most watched sporting event, can stage a third-place contest, certainly the NCAA can reinstate an additional game to March Madness,” Blake concluded.

And by the way, back in 1969 when his alma mater, after nearly beating UCLA, got to play that consolation game. Do you know what happened?

“Drake destroyed North Carolina with a guy named Charlie Scott by like 30 points,” Blake said.

A game he will never forget. J. Paul Blake a KIRO listener, is now retired and living in Las Vegas, where he will be attending the regional final this weekend.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: NCAA should bring back consolation games in March Madness