March Madness As Seen On TV

Some notes about coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that starts Thursday:

1. The Big Ten not only got hosed as far as getting a disproportionate number of lower (or is it higher?) seeds, but Big Ten fans wanting to watch conference teams are also getting the shaft.

On Thursday, Minnesota and Michigan play at the same time. On Friday, it’s even worse — Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin all play in the late window. Should they advance, Ohio State and Michigan State will both play at the same time on Sunday, while Michigan and Purdue would both play in the third window on Saturday should they survive Thursday.

So, Madison viewers, unless you subscribe to DirecTV’s Mega March Madness package or are OK with watching games on-line at ncaa.com, you won’t see Ohio State and Michigan State’s first round games, and the only way you’ll see any of the Michigan/Clemson game is if the Minnesota/Texas game is a blowout — which it could be.

2. Every year a west coast game is scheduled on late Thursday afternoon that is only broadcast to home markets. This year that game is the intriguing game between PAC-10 regular season champ Washington and SEC tournament champ Mississippi State.

This year that game will be available to cable and satellite viewers on the CBS College Sports Network. It’s at 3:45 PM and its available on DirecTV on channel 613 or on Charter channel 306. Typically Charter customers need to pay extra for the network as part of its Digital Sports Tier, but it is available via a free preview through April 9.

Whether the Mississippi State/Washington game is going to make or break your bracket is doubtful, but it will be nice to be able to actually see that elusive late afternoon Thursday game for a change.

3. This will be the first Road to the Final Four since 1974 that will not include curmudgeonly analyst Billy Packer. Yes, our long national nightmare is over. 

4. While I looked at President Obama’s filled-in bracket with much interest (he took chalk — boring), I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s really a good thing that he had time to do so. At the very least, shouldn’t the guy prioritize a nap over trying to breakdown the BYU/Texas A&M rematch? While I was annoyed on many levels that President Bush launched his Iraqi invasion at the same time as March Madness in 2003, part of me was sort of OK with the fact that he seemed oblivious of the tournament. Of course, I wasn’t OK with the fact that he seemed oblivious of so many other things — sorry, that was too easy to pass up.

5. Survivor fans take note: There is no Survivor episode March 19 or March 26. Now on Wednesday, March 25, there will be a Survivorat 7 PM, but it will be one of those completely unnecessary and completely missable “first half of season wrap-up” shows. And since this current season has so far been a stiff — although it seems it’s always a stiff until about merge time — fans should feel free to skip it. But I might tune in with the hopes that there will be lots of previously unaired footage of ousted hotties Carolina and Candace.

Best Thursday game: Butler/LSU.

Worst Thursday game: Connecticut/Chattanooga.

Best Friday game:  West Virginia/Dayton.

Worst Friday game: Louisville/Morehead State.

Enjoy the games.

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