Syndication ratings were a mixed bag for most syndicated shows in the week ended March 26 due to numerous preemptions.

The second week of the NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBS caused numerous preemptions for access shows, which were heavily cleared on CBS affiliates.

However, since there was less NCAA coverage compared to the first week of the tournament, some daytime shows were able to completely avoid the preemptions of the previous week and saw a ratings rebound. Nevertheless, some shows were bumped or joined in-progress March 21 due to coverage of President Bush’s press conference.

“Friends” had the biggest week to week increase of any strip in syndication, up 43% to a new season high of 6.6. Skein was the only syndication strip to hit a new high this week. Compared to last year at this time “Friends,” the highest rated off net sitcom for the first time this season, was up 25%.

“Everybody Loves Raymond,” the usual off-net leader, slipped to second place at 6.1, unchanged for the week and down 5% from last year.

“Seinfeld” was third at a 5.6, down 3% for week and off 5% year to year.

“That ’70s Show” was in fourth place with a 4.0, up 8% both week to week and year to year.

There was a tie for fifth place between “King of Queens” and “King of the Hill” with each show averaging a 2.9. “King of Queens” was up 12% week to week and year to year, while “King of the Hill” was up 7% for the week and unchanged from last year.

Elsewhere in syndication “Entertainment Tonight,” was the most preempted show in syndication for the second straight week, losing 26 metered markets including the top five for two days on March 23 and 24 due to the basketball tournament. However, “ET” was able to maintain its first-place status in the magazine genre, down 2% for week to a 4.8, but up 4% from last year.

“The Insider” had tournament preemptions in 16 metered markets but was able to hold steady both week to week and year to year at a 2.5

No. 2 magazine show, “Inside Edition” was up 6% week to week and up 9% year to year to a 3.5.

“Access Hollywood” went unchanged at a 2.6 and was up 4% from last year.

“Extra” was down 5% week to week and year to year at a 2.1.

In daytime, “Oprah,” which had hit its lowest ratings of the season the week prior, recovered to a 6.6, up 14% for week and unchanged from last year.

“Dr. Phil,” which was also coming off a new season low from the prior week, snapped back to a 5.1, up 11% week to week but still down 4% from last year.

Among the rookie talkers “The Tyra Banks Show” and “The Martha Stewart Show” tied in households at a 1.7. “Tyra” held steady while “Martha” was down 6%.

Among gavelers, “Judge Judy” averaged a 5.0, up 4% week to week but down 4% year to year.

“Judge Joe Brown” was flat at a 3.1 and down 11% year to year.

Rookie gaveler “Judge Alex” was up 4% to 2.4.