NCAA caves to TV pressure by going easy on Duke

The experts on CBS and ESPN were not at liberty Sunday night to explain to you why the NCAA Tournament selection committee treated Duke like the No. 1 overall seed rather than Kansas, the nation’s best basketball team.

The explanation is simple: Duke is television ratings gold, and the NCAA is in the process of negotiating a new TV contract for its prized tournament.

CBS, the current rights holder, and ESPN, America’s 24-hour national sports network — along with several other networks — are currently participating in the contract negotiations. It’s a high-stakes affair. CBS paid $6 billion to exclusively broadcast the event for the last 11 years.