Weekend ratings breakdown: College hoops and NASCAR top a busy weekend

Jonathan Daniel

Also: the NBA hits a season low, the NHL has a bounceback week, and the SEC hits lows.

Welcome to Puck the Media's Weekend Ratings Breakdown. Every Monday, we'll analyze the ratings for all the weekend sports telecasts on the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC). You can find the original numbers at Sports Business Daily (subscription required).

Saturday, March 16

11:30 a.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Conference USA Championship, Memphis vs. Southern Miss (CBS): 1.2

12:30 p.m. ET - MLS: D.C. United vs. New York (NBC): 0.7

1 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: SEC Semifinal, Florida vs. Alabama (ABC): 0.9

1:30 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Big Ten Semifinal, Wisconsin vs. Indiana (CBS): 2.3

3 p.m. ET - Golf: Tampa Bay Championship, Round Three (NBC): 1.3

3:15 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: SEC Semifinal, Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt (ABC): 0.7

4:15 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Big Ten Semifinal, Ohio State vs. Michigan State (CBS): 2.3

6:15 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Mountain West Championship, New Mexico vs. UNLV (CBS): 1.7

Analysis: A warning that everything is a little out of whack this week (and for the next little while, to be honest) because the NCAA Basketball Tournament is starting a week later than last year. So, for most of the hoops action, we're basically comparing it to a week ago last year.

That MLS number is, sadly, inflated on NBC. The St. Patrick's Day Parade preempted MLS coverage in New York, giving the MLS coverage a higher number than it would've originally had. When the cable numbers for Sunday come in on Tuesday (the game aired on NBCSN in New York), we should have more clarity on what the Red Bulls-United game actually did.

Back to hoops, both SEC semifinals (0.9 and 0.7) were down from last year's (1.6 and 1.0). Alabama was the only new school in the SEC final four this year, replacing the very popular Kentucky team from last season, who were responsible for that 1.6 last year against Florida. Both Big Ten semifinals were up big from last year (the dueling 2.3s topped Michigan State-Wisconsin's 1.6 and Ohio State-Michigan's 2.0 in 2012, respectively), the Conference USA championship was up a couple of ticks (Memphis-Marshall drew a 1.0 last year), and the Mountain West Final beat CBS' broadcast of the Pac-12 Final (1.4) last year. Charles Barkley wasn't kidding last night when he pointed out on TruTV that the MWC is the most underrated conference in the country. Golf was even with last year.

Sunday, March 17

12 p.m. ET - Road to the Final Four (CBS): 1.0

12:30 p.m. ET - NHL: Boston vs. Pittsburgh (NBC): 1.2

1 p.m. ET - NASCAR Sprint Cup: Bristol (Fox): 4.4

1 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Atlantic 10 Championship, Saint Louis vs. VCU (CBS): 1.2

1 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: SEC Championship, Ole Miss vs. Florida (ABC): 1.3

3 p.m. ET - Golf: Tampa Bay Championship, Final Round (NBC): 2.0

3:15 p.m. ET - NBA Countdown (ABC): 1.7

3:30 p.m. ET - NBA: New York vs. LA Clippers (ABC): 2.3

3:30 p.m. ET - NCAA Hoops: Big Ten Championship, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (CBS): 3.0

6 p.m. ET - NCAA Basketball Selection Show (CBS): 4.4

Analysis: The SEC Final, without Kentucky, was down big from last year (2.1 to 1.3). The Atlantic 10 championship was down a bit (St. Bonaventure-Xavier drew a 1.4 last year). The Big Ten Final was up from a 2.7 for last year's Michigan State-Ohio State. Finally, the Selection Show was up 10 percent from last season's 4.0 rating, to tie for tops of the weekend.

NASCAR, meanwhile, was also atop the ratings perch, with a matching 4.4, up 10 percent from the same race last year, but down slightly from the comparable week last year (4.6). The NHL, coming off its lowest rating of the season last week, bounced back in a big way, with Bruins-Penguins up from last year's comparable Penguins-Flyers matchup (1.0). Finally, the NBA did not air a game this week last year, but Knicks-Clippers drew ABC's lowest NBA overnight of the season, and lowest overall since April 2, 2012 (Bulls-Thunder).

More in College Basketball:

Printable bracket for March Madness

Full coverage of March Madness

Full NCAA Tournament seeding, from 1 to 68

Everything you need to know about the NCAA bracket

The life and death of Earl Badu

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