NCAA Basketball Cannibalizing Itself

David J. Phillip/AP

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament is the biggest, baddest, most spectacular playoff in American sports. Really, nothing else comes close: 64 teams from all over the nation—big powers, small powers, teams you never heard of before—all duking it out on the hardwoods, not in a popularity poll.

The tournament is the NCAA's cash cow and its principal means of holding together so many schools under its banner. And it's popular: This year's contest, which ends tonight in Atlanta, has averaged ratings that are nine percent higher than last year's, making it the most-watched tournament since 2005. In workplaces all over the country, people who haven't watched a college-basketball game all year find themselves filling out brackets...

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