The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicked into full gear this past week.
Four channels on the television were dominated by the activity allowing each game to be viewed. That meant I was able to see my alma mater, Morehead State University (a 13 seed), upset No. 4 seed and in-state rival Louisville. In years past because of the low profile of the game, the only part of the scuffle we may have seen was the end. But by combining Turner Broadcasting’s TNT, TBS and TruTV with CBS coverage, those with cable or satellite were able to see all of the games.
Everyone I talked to raved about the coverage this year. It reduced cut-aways and allowed fans to watch the game they were interested in with fewer interruptions.
While this partnership was a success, there were some issues that need to be cleaned up in the future by the NCAA and CBS.
One is having No. 1 seeds playing nearly at the same time in the first round. An example would be Duke and Hampton playing at 3:10 with Ohio State and UTSA tipping off at 4:10 p.m.
Let’s face it; with the expansion of the tournament to 68 teams, the No. 1 seed versus the No. 16 seed is pretty lopsided. When you have those No. 1 teams on television at the same time, it can get pretty boring watching them beat their opponent into submission. Suggestion: don’t allow the No. 1 seeds to play at the same time in the first round. Stuff an eight versus nine seed game in there somewhere.
No one really knows where the upsets are going to come from, but by monitoring the handy score guide on top of the television screen, you can check the clock to see who is close and switch it if you choose. The only real losers in this new basketball bonanza were those with rabbit ears or an antenna for a signal.
Unfortunately, the announcers in the studio are not as sharp as the ones on the court this year. Greg Gumble’s flub announcing, “more NCAA action coming up on ESPN,” has made it into print in numerous publications. You could just see the air coming out of the sails of the veteran announcer after that mistake. ESPN has been putting pressure on the NCAA to get coverage of the event. The double team of Turner and CBS was an effort to keep the ball in CBS’s court.
Then there was Charles Barkley. One reviewer called his analysis “entertaining” and another called him “refreshingly frank.” I just call him terrible. Did he even watch a college basketball game this regular season?
Louisville coach Rick Pitino joined the studio crew after his team’s loss to Morehead State. It was clear he was uncomfortable with Barkley’s ripping of the Big East Conference. Of course, Louisville is in the Big East.
Barkley’s most intelligent analysis was, “sometimes you just lose.” Amen … Charles. Television viewers sure lost having to listen to you and Kenny Smith trying to explain what you meant.
I really felt sorry for Pitino to be involved in that exchange with Barkley. In some circles Pitino was criticized for saying very little, but with Sir Charles rambling on it was a good tactic after their skirmish over how talented the Big East was. According to Barkley, the Big East has the best coaches, but not the best players and didn’t deserve to have 11 teams in the tournament.
Oh well, let’s see what he has to say this weekend. Maybe he can find something else to talk about. Barkley may be a good NBA announcer, but I would just as soon listen to someone else. Let Pitino talk.