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Five for the Weekend: For fans, title weekend in Atlanta could be sweet

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Philips Arena is a tentative venue for next year's D-II and III title games. (US Presswire)  
Philips Arena is a tentative venue for next year's D-II and III title games. (US Presswire)  

The NCAA is moving the Division II and Division III championships to the same location as next season's Final Four. So now they can be mostly ignored in the same location as next season's Final Four. Awesome. Let's do Five for the Weekend!

1. Is it a good thing that all three divisions of NCAA men's basketball will crown their champions during Final Four weekend in Atlanta?

Five for the Weekend
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It's certainly not a bad thing -- although I'm not sure how much impact it'll actually have in terms of, you know, fans attending. The Division II and Division III title games will be played on the Sunday between the Division I semifinals and title game, but I can't imagine too many Indiana or Louisville fans (or whichever fans happen to be there) will spend their off days watching schools they know nothing about play basketball inside Philips Arena. I mean, why would they? Most folks just don't care.

That said, it should be fun for the D-II and D-III players.

They'll get to spend their "Championship Weekend" in the center of the college basketball universe, rub shoulders with future pros and experience what is annually a terrific few days. So that's good.

But NCAA executive vice president for championships Mark Lewis' stated goal of trying to "allow more and more people to see all three championships at the same time" is probably a little foolish. Sure, this setup will "allow" people to see all three championships if their hearts desire. But my guess is that the overwhelming majority of fans in Atlanta will spend the Sunday of Final Four weekend just like they do every year, i.e., recovering from Saturday and getting ready for Monday.

2. Who won the Division II and Division III championships last season?

I have no idea -- and that's sort of my point.

It never even occurred to me to find out.

(If you're interested, they're listed here.)

3. Should the Big East basketball-only schools consider breaking away from the league, as former commissioner Mike Tranghese suggested?

Only if they hate money.

Tranghese is not the first person to suggest this, and he probably won't be the last. But basketball-only leagues simply do not garner the type of TV contracts that all-sports leagues (like the Big 12 and ACC) have been signing, and that's why it's in the basketball-only schools' best interests to figure out how to co-exist with the all-sports schools and move forward as a league as best they can.

It's a dysfunctional setup that makes little geographic sense. Nobody is disputing that. But it's the best option for everybody involved ... at least at this moment.

4. Even Louisville?

Yes, even Louisville -- unless the ACC and Big 12 extend invitations, which hasn't happened yet, which is why it's weird that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich's reported desire to be in the ACC or Big 12 was made into such a big deal this week.

Newsflash: Every Big East AD would rather be in the ACC or Big 12, just like every Kansas City Royal would rather play for the New York Yankees and make more money while doing it. But it doesn't matter unless that's an option. And, to date, neither the ACC nor the Big 12 appear to be an option for Louisville.

If an opportunity to upgrade ever presents itself, the Cards will leave the Big East quicker than Peyton Siva can dribble from one end of the court to the other, as well they should. But that same sentence could be written about every Big East all-sports school, as Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia all reminded us within the past year.

5. Which early season tournament looks to have the strongest field next season?

This question came from a reader via Twitter late Thursday, and I'm using it because a) I feel like being helpful and b) it's really simple to answer. The best event is the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, and it's not close. It's scheduled for Nov. 22-24 and will feature six schools -- Louisville (No. 3), Duke (No. 12), Memphis (No. 14), Missouri (No. 19), Minnesota (No. 24) and VCU (No. 25) -- that are ranked in our early Top 25 (and one).

That means 75 percent of the field is expected to be really good.

In fact, the Battle 4 Atlantis could serve as a preview for the Battle for Atlanta.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.
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