Monday, March 08, 1999

CBS quick on the draw

Just the facts, little babble

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's the biggest non-event event of the sports year. You flip on CBS at 6:30 Sunday evening, and the whole mystery of the beginning of March Madness is revealed to you in 15 minutes of fast reading by Michele Tafoya.

        CBS did a nice job Sunday. They didn't needlessly analyze. They gave you what you wanted quickly and concisely. In less than 10 minutes, three-quarters of the bracket was done.

        Tafoya did her work quickly, but she added little facts with each selection.

        “UAB: This is Murry Bartow's first trip to the tourney.”

        “Siena: The nation's No.1 free-throw shooting team.”

        Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg, Jim Nantz and Billy Packer did some nice instant analysis on each region.

        Kellogg pointed out the potential matchup of St. John's and George Washington in the second round. Mike Jarvis, the St. John's coach, is the former GW coach.

        Packer asked the right questions in his interview with C.M. Newton, the chairman of selection committee. But Newton's answers were pretty general. He wouldn't say who the last team left out was. Packer pressed Newton on whether the committee looks at how many teams from each conference make the field. But the University of Kentucky athletic director wouldn't bite.

        “We don't think of teams in terms of conference,” Newton said. “That was not a factor.”

        The local schools got a bit of air time. CBS had a live shot from Oxford of the Miami team seeing its name put on the bracket.

        “We've seen Wally Szczerbiak and that's a team to be reckoned with,” Packer said.

        Xavier was the first bubble team Jim Nantz mentioned.

        “They had a chance to play their way in and didn't get it done,” Packer said.

        Nantz also pointed up the potential Kentucky-Kansas matchup in the second round.

        One thing that CBS didn't make much of was Cincinnati being in the same region with No.1 Duke. UC, of course, is the only team to beat the Blue Devils this season.

        It's strange, at least in an area where college basketball is as big as it is here, that CBS doesn't expand the show to an hour. Every year, I watch the CBS show, then switch over to ESPN to get a little more bracket talk.

        ESPN had Chris Fowler and Digger Phelps in the studio and remotes with Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas, as well as live shots from Auburn and Evansville.

        Bilas, who was in Kansas City where the NCAA Selection Committee met, pointed out something that CBS didn't mention. He said the committee struggled most with seeds No. 6 through 11.

        DICKIE V. ON UK: Dick Vitale quickly tabbed Kentucky as his favorite in the South Region.

        “Kentucky's going to come out of that region,” Vitale said, or rather yelled. “They're going to the Final Four for the fourth straight year.”

        Phelps agreed: “Look at Kentucky and what they did in the SEC Tournament. They can go somewhere.”

        Both CBS and ESPN jumped on the potential UK-Utah matchup in the third round, noting that UK has beaten Utah four times in the '90s in the NCAA.

        A BREAK LOCALLY: It looks like Channel 12 will be able to avoid major conflicts with the local teams. Cincinnati, Miami and Kentucky play Friday. Indiana and Ohio State play Thursday.

        UK and Miami are at New Orleans, so there's no potential for conflict there.

        With two windows for games — day and night — it should work out.

        The network won't announce its schedule until today or Tuesday. Which announcers are doing which games will be announced Tuesday also.

        PROPS TO ESPN: The network did its usual nice job with Championship Week. The announcers kept you updated with all the games that were going on at the same time. They showed the end of the UC's loss in the Conference USA tourney, and the end of Miami's overtime win over Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference semis.

        John Fay covers TV/radio for The Enquirer. He can be reached at 768-8445


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- CBS quick on the draw
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NCAA Tournament schedule
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