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Updated Mar 30, 2012 - 1:01 pm

From March Madness to March Sadness

Kentucky players scrimmage on the court during a practice session for the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament Friday, March 30, 2012, in New Orleans. Kentucky plays Louisville in a semifinals game on Saturday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Q: When exactly did I click "Unfollow" on college basketball?

A: Don't ask me. If anyone knows that I don't have a clue - it's you.

That exchange represents an earnest answer to a genuine question that I've asked myself repeatedly. Yes, a sort of struggle within.

Heck, I've even refused to take that answer from myself and gone Paulie Polygraph with the bright white light. So far, as the test results will verify, I've provided no viable or credible answer. (Note: that's me talking to myself, both in first person and third person. Please kids, don't try this at home.)

And, just like I can't be certain as to when I stopped paying close attention, I'm not sure why that is either. All I know is that I definitely don't feel like I'm missing anything. Not anymore. Of that much, I'm certain.

Used to be, you couldn't get me off the couch during March Madness. Paulie Potato. Whereas this year, I've spent more time shopping for a couch with the wife. #True.

And when that couch does arrive (8-10 weeks for shipping?!), I'll probably sit down to watch just the highlights anyway. For some reason, I now follow college hoops like World Cup soccer. I mean, to paraphrase another question that I ask myself every four years : What does a 2-3 hour telecast offer that I can't get in a 45-second highlight reel? #ROI-Return on Investment.

For Paulie Roundball, the interest in college ball has been subject to slow erosion. And, right now, I feel like the Grand Canyon.

Maybe it's because when I watch, I don't see just the game itself. Simply put, it's not enough to keep my interest anymore.

Instead, I see what used to be. Or what could be. Or, maybe, what should be. And, alas, all those storylines are infinitely more intriguing than what is currently trending, save perhaps the ever-rare Kentucky-Louisville rivalry reaching a Final Four.

Maybe it's the caliber of play - or lack thereof. Maybe it's the one and done element. If players are any good, they're gone. Just when you get to know the superstars, March Madness ends and so do their college careers. #ResetButton

Maybe it's because when I watch games, I can't stop myself from seeing the discrepancy and disparity. Head coaches earning $4M per year to coach players who might receive the equivalent value of $40K per scholarship.

Or maybe it's multiple choice - all of the above. Thereby creating the erosion from the elements.

Either way, I used to feel guilty about my waning interest. ("Hi, my name is Paulie Roundball and I'm no longer addicted to college hoops.") But, like anything, there's comfort in numbers. And the numbers don't lie when it comes to the local TV ratings. For example, when you see that the Nationwide NASCAR race on ESPN gets a better rating than the Phoenix Regional Final (Florida vs Louisville) on network TV (1.8 to 1.7 rating), uh, that's not exactly "Awesome" with a capital A.

In fact, it's all lower-case these days. Sorry to be Paulie Party Pooper, but if the wife wants to go shopping for a coffee table this weekend…


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