Press Coverage: Breaking Down The CBS Schedule and Announcing Crews

There's a game within a game as to when the NCAA tournament games are scheduled. Sure, seeding has a lot to do with what teams get placed in each region, but the time the games are scheduled has more to do with filling the arenas and getting eyes in front of the TV. It's somewhat curious, then, why the NCAA and CBS would schedule so many teams from the same conference at the same time. With eight schools from the Big East and seven from the Big 12 getting into the tournament, some overlap is unavoidable, but with 10 distinct TV blocks, it's interesting why some of these games couldn't be a bit more spread out. ↵

↵Thursday has three games tipping off between 12:20 and 12:30 p.m. ET with two of those games – ODU vs. Notre Dame and Robert Morris vs. Villanova – featuring Big East teams. The other game in the lead timeslot is Florida and BYU. Congratulations, Gators, you were one of the last teams in and TV has you scheduled to be the first team out. ↵

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↵In Thursday's second block, two Big 12 Final Four contenders will be playing at the same time, with Kansas State taking on North Texas and Baylor facing Sam Houston State. Meanwhile the 5:00 p.m. slot, which only features one game, has the #5 vs. #12 match-up of Butler and UTEP. Perhaps CBS is assuming the history of great #5 vs. #12 games in scheduling that as the only contest in that window, but expecting that to be the case could be a bust if the game turns out to be a blowout. ↵

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↵That said, the 5:00 p.m. slot has to be somewhat of a ratings lull for CBS with the entire east coast and much of the Midwest settling down for dinner during those two hours. How else can you explain the Friday game of #5 Texas A&M facing #12 Utah State as the lone national game, when another match-up with the same seeds – #5, and 2009 national-champion runner-up, Michigan State against #12 New Mexico State – are playing at the same location in a four-game block on CBS, at 7:00 p.m., that includes Duke. One would think it makes more sense to put a national powerhouse in the national block, rather than split four ways later in the day, but clearly CBS has their reasons. ↵

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↵Speaking of Duke, it's interesting to note why CBS has their game on at the same time as two other ACC teams in Georgia Tech and Florida State. There are just six ACC teams in the tournament, and three of them are playing their opening round game at the same time. Again, you can make the case that putting Marquette and Georgetown or Texas and Kansas on at the same time is unavoidable with so many teams from those conferences making the tournament. But three from the ACC at the same time when just one of the six ACC schools – Wake Forest – is playing on Thursday? That doesn't seem very balanced for ACC fans. ↵

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↵Maybe there's some logic to it that I'm missing. There has to be, or how else would you explain that the tournament scheduled the top two teams in the Atlantic-10 – Temple and Xavier – to tip off just five minutes apart? I suppose there are two schools of thought on the situation. First, most people only care about their school, not the conference affiliation. A Kansas State fan may have a tangential interest in Baylor's game, but not enough that it makes a difference when it's scheduled on TV. Or, as suggested on by Kyle Whelliston of MidMajority.com while we taped an interview on Monday, CBS is purposely lumping together conference teams to drum up hits to March Madness on Demand. If you're a fan of the Big East and you can watch all eight teams on TV at different times, you may be less likely to go online to watch the games in other markets. But if you are a Georgetown fan and want to keep an eye on Marquette, there's only one place to go. Well, two if you count your local sports bar with a million TVs and a dish. ↵

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↵Calling All Games…Calling All Games… ↵
↵It's always curious to see where CBS sends some of its announcing crews. Here is a list of who is playing where and when, courtesy of HD Sports Guide. The list is broken down by CBS crew: ↵

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↵Thursday, March 18, 2010 ↵
↵Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery – Providence ↵
↵12:30 PM South Regional: #15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Villanova ↵
↵3:00 PM South Regional: #10 Saint Mary’s vs. #7 Richmond ↵
↵7:25 PM Midwest Regional: #14 Ohio vs. #3 Georgetown ↵
↵9:55 PM Midwest Regional: #11 San Diego State vs. #6 Tennessee ↵

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↵Analysis: For my money, there is nobody better than Raftery. When Billy Packer left CBS, the network should have righted a decade-old wrong and put Raf into the top crew. Well, technically, teaming him up with Lundquist makes this the top crew. It's a shame they won't get the Final Four, but they do get a very high profile set of games with two Big East and one SEC school in the mix. ↵

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↵Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas – New Orleans ↵
↵12:25 PM South Regional: #11 Old Dominion vs. #6 Notre Dame ↵
↵2:55 PM South Regional: #14 Sam Houston State vs. #3 Baylor ↵
↵7:15 PM East Regional: #16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Kentucky ↵
↵9:45 PM East Regional: #9 Wake Forest vs. #8 Texas ↵

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↵Analysis: It's great that CBS and ESPN can work together and one of ESPN's top basketball properties in Bilas (and Raftery for that matter) can still work the tournament. It's also good that the network came to some agreement with Enberg for what could be one final tournament for him. It's a good bracket for this crew, with ample chances for a few "oh my" calls down the stretch. ↵

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↵Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner – Oklahoma City ↵
↵12:20 PM West Regional : #10 Florida vs. #7 Brigham Young ↵
↵2:50 PM West Regional : #15 North Texas vs. #2 Kansas State ↵
↵7:10 PM Midwest Regional: #9 Northern Iowa vs. #8 UNLV ↵
↵9:40 PM Midwest Regional: #16 Lehigh vs. #1 Kansas ↵

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↵Analysis: It's somewhat surprising that CBS chose to start the tournament in all markets with the rather non-descript crew of Harlan and Bonner. It's not that they aren't good, they just aren't as high profile as some of the other crews CBS could use to lead us into March Madness. Fans in the state of Kansas will be quite familiar with the crew once the weekend is over. ↵

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↵Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel – San Jose ↵
↵2:30 PM West Regional : #13 Murray State vs. #4 Vanderbilt ↵
↵5:00 PM West Regional : #12 UTEP vs. #5 Butler ↵
↵7:20 PM East Regional: #11 Washington vs. #6 Marquette ↵
↵9:50 PM East Regional: #14 Montana vs. #3 New Mexico ↵

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↵Analysis: Dedes is the new face on the lineup, and was slated to replace Enberg – as he did in the regular season. Craig Bolerjack got the short straw when Enberg came back into the fold, which bodes well for Dedes in the future. Funny Bob Wenzel story: he was back covering a Rutgers game a few years ago and told one of his old confidants that he was on the fast track to replace Packer in the lead analyst chair. He's still in the mix doing games, but that track has obviously slowed quite a bit. This region could have some very close games, but it doesn't have one marquee school. ↵

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↵Friday, March 19, 2010 ↵
↵Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg – Jacksonville ↵
↵12:30 PM East Regional: #12 Cornell vs. #5 Temple ↵
↵3:00 PM East Regional: #13 Wofford vs. #4 Wisconsin ↵
↵7:25 PM South Regional: Play in Winner vs. #1 Duke ↵
↵9:55 PM South Regional: #9 Louisville vs. #8 California ↵

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↵Analysis: It is no shock that Nantz and Kellogg got Duke in their region as CBS has a love affair with the Blue Devils. Do not be shocked when the second-round Duke game is the lone national game to lead Sunday's coverage. Nantz and Kellogg also get a great Temple-Cornell match-up and a potential second round game with Wisconsin that could be one of the top of the entire tournament. ↵

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↵Gus Johnson and Len Elmore – Buffalo ↵
↵12:15 PM East Regional: #15 Morgan State vs. #2 West Virginia ↵
↵2:45 PM East Regional: #10 Missouri vs. #7 Clemson ↵
↵7:10 PM West Regional : #9 Florida State vs. #8 Gonzaga ↵
↵9:10 PM West Regional : #16 Vermont vs. #1 Syracuse ↵

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↵Analysis: I am shocked. CBS didn't give Gus Johnson one of the four #5 vs. #12 games and didn't give him one viable upset contender. Not a mid major in sight in Johnson's bracket. Sure the games might be good, but will a Missouri upset over Clemson resonate the way a Wofford-Wisconsin upset would? Or Siena over Purdue? Elmore is one of my favorite analysts, and there will surely be some competitive games to call, but…well…shocked. ↵

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↵Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel – Milwaukee ↵
↵12:25 PM West Regional : #11 Minnesota vs. #6 Xavier ↵
↵2:55 PM West Regional : #14 Oakland vs. #3 Pittsburgh ↵
↵7:15 PM Midwest Regional: #10 Georgia Tech vs. #7 Oklahoma State ↵
↵9:45 PM Midwest Regional: #15 UC Santa Barbara vs. #2 Ohio State ↵

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↵Analysis: Eagle and Spanarkel are another solid crew and they get a solid set of games. There's nothing spectacular in this part of the bracket, but it should be compelling basketball with some really good second-round games set up. Of course, that probably means this bracket will be thoroughly busted by Sunday night. ↵

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↵Tim Brando and Mike Gminski – Spokane ↵
↵2:30 PM South Regional: #13 Siena vs. #4 Purdue ↵
↵5:00 PM South Regional: #12 Utah State vs. #5 Texas A&M ↵
↵7:20 PM Midwest Regional: #12 New Mexico State vs. #5 Michigan State ↵
↵9:50 PM Midwest Regional: #13 Houston vs. #4 Maryland ↵

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↵Analysis: If there aren't at least two upsets in the games called by Brando and Gminski, someone will lose a lot of money. Again, there is no disrespect intended for Brando and Gminski, who call a fine game, but how is Gus Johnson not calling a location with two #5 vs #12 games and two #4 vs. #13 games? ↵

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↵Let's hope CBS knows something we don't. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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