CBS's coverage of the Final Four Saturday night drew a 10.9/19, its highest metered-market Nielsen numbers for the two basketball games since 1998. CBS' average rating for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which began March 17, is its best since 1993, according to the network.
At 6-8:15 p.m. Saturday night, top-ranked Illinois' defeat of Louisville averaged a 10.3/19, up 23% from an 8.4/17 for last year's Georgia Tech/Oklahoma State early game and the best rating for that game since 1998. Contributing to that strong number Saturday was rooting interest in the number-three market, Chicago, where the Illinois game averaged a 22.7/45 on WBBM-TV
North Carolina's victory over Michigan State in game two averaged an 11.4/19, up 11% from last year's Connecticut-Duke game.
Monday night's much-anticipated finals should draw a bunch of eyeballs as well. Despite some bracket-busting early round upsets in the tournament, the championship is between season number one Illinois (undefeated save for a buzzer-beater loss toward the end of the season) and number two North Carolina. It is the first time in 30 years that the top two teams in the season rankings have met for the championship.