We’re here with the Friday megalinks and plenty of stuff to go over today. Let’s start it off with the Weekend Viewing Picks.
College Basketball is in the midst of some great matchups with conference action, but starting tonight, the mid-major conferences take precedence as the ESPN family of networks will air a total of 13 games involving mid-major teams jockeying for position for the NCAA Tournament. One of the marquee matchups will be Butler at Davidson at noon on ESPN. But ESPN’s feature game will be Oklahoma at Texas Saturday night at 9. For a full schedule of games, check out the College Basketball Viewing Picks.
For the first time, CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada will be widely available in the United States via the NHL Network. It begins at noon on Saturday and all six Canadian teams will be involved in three games, Ottawa at Montreal at 3 p.m., Vancouver at Toronto at 7 p.m. then Calgary at Edmonton at 10 p.m. CBC will be live mostly from New Campbellton, New Brunswick and from various sites all over Canada to celebrate the country’s national pastime.
NBC’s NHL Game of the Week will have Pittsburgh taking on the Washington Capitals, Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The NBA will have one feature game on Sunday on ABC with the defending champions Boston Celtics taking on Phoenix at 2:30 p.m., then ESPN has a doubleheader with Miami at Orlando and Detroit at Cleveland starting at 5 p.m.
The PGA Tour’s last event before Tiger Woods’ return is the Northern Trust Open and CBS has coverage starting at 3 p.m. Saturday.
NASCAR’s second race of the season is the Auto Club 500 on Fox, Sunday at 5 p.m.
NBC has coverage of the American Cup gymnastics event at 4 p.m.
Spike will have taped coverage of UFC 95 from London, Saturday night at 9.
And Tour of California featuring Lance Armstrong concludes Sunday on Versus at 5 p.m.
The full Weekend Viewing Picks can be seen here.
Now to your links.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand talks about ESPN2′s Bassmaster Classic which airs this weekend.
The Big Lead has an interview with ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Rob King who has some interesting comments about Bill Simmons.
CNBC’s Darren Rovell thinks Amgen’s sponsorship of the Tour of California is a misguided idea. Darren says TNT’s Charles Barkley made the right kind of apology and should be a role model for Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez. Darren has Sports Illustrated’s explanation as to why it airbrushed Danica Patrick’s tattoo in this year’s Swimsuit issue, when it left it on last year. And Darren has some of the best Alex Rodriguez nicknames to date.
Playboy has some of the sexiest international sportscasters. Very hot.
Ed Meza of Variety writes that Swiss-based Sportfive has won the bid for European media rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, taking over for long-time Olympics partner, the European Broadcasting Union.
Daniel Frankel of Variety says the NBA All-Star Game on TNT saw a 20% rise in the ratings from last year.
Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News looks at ESPN’s new rights deal with the Sun Belt Conference.
Jon Lafayette of TV Week says Golf Channel is all over Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour.
I have an article at Digital Sports Daily on the PGA being very, very happy over Tiger’s return.
The Sports Media Watch says Tiger’s announcement that he was coming back made the PGA extremely happy.
Steve Lepore at Puck The Media says NBC actually made a decent choice for its flex NHL game on March 22.
East and Mid-Atlantic
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe writes that NESN/NBC/CBC’s Mike Milbury is not shy behind the mike.
Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette profiles NESN’s SportsDesk anchor (and charlatan) Cole Wright and his big head.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times says the Sports Museum of America is closing after less than a year of operation.
The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick says Bud Selig is the true shame of baseball, not Alex Rodriguez. I actually see Mushnick’s point.
The bitter and bombastic Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says Brian Cashman has become the spokesman for the New York Yankees.
Neil Best of Newsday says “The Wrestler” got a rave review from WWE wrestler Mick Foley. Neil says Foley and Kevin “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” James were high school classmates. Neil talks with Tennis Channel head honcho Ken Solomon about his desire to get picked up by Cablevision.
Phil Januck of the Schenectady Gazette talks with Albany River Rats analyst John Hennessy about the bus accident yesterday that injured five players. Thanks to Ken Schott of the Gazette for updating me on the story.
Laura Nachman says Reading Phillies radio voice Steve Degler is moving to the TV side.
Stacy Brown of the Scranton (PA) Times-Tribune notes the trend of the shrinking sportcast on local TV news.
Roger van der Horst of the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer says ESPN’s Outside the Lines will look at college basketball recruiting package deals.
Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald writes that TNT’s Charles Barkley showed true remorse in his return last night.
Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel looks at the best sports scenes in non-sports movies.
David Barron in the Houston Chronicle discusses the cancellation of a local sports TV show.
Marc Katz of the Dayton Daily News has a story on a former college basketball coach who presevered to get a shot on ESPN.
Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Charles Barkley did not shy away from his DUI arrest on TNT last night.
Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald isn’t too enthralled about watching HBO’s documentary on the Duke-North Carolina rivalry.
Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin cannot believe the amount of coverage that will be devoted to the NFL Scouting Combine on NFL Network this weekend.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the high amount of sports programming doesn’t necessarily translate to high ratings. Dan also has the ratings for sports in the Gateway City last week.
Scott Pierce of the Deseret (UT) News says the mtn’s basketball coverage has improved over last year.
Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune says NASCAR on Fox is set to take on the Oscars this year.
John Maffei in the North County Times talks with MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds.
Jim Carlisle writes in the Ventura County Star about ESPN’s upcoming Los Angeles-produced 1 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter premiering in April.
Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times says Charles Barkley’s apology on TNT was typical Charles.
Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News has preliminary results of his reader’s Best Sportscaster poll. In his weekly column, Tom looks at the Best and Worst of Los Angeles sports analysts (best line in Tom’s column is from Tony Reavis… scroll to the bottom… unbelievable). In his blog, Tom has a bit more on his column and of course, has extensive news and notes. Tom asks for readers’ votes in the analyst category. And Tom says Jim Rome has a streak of Rex’s going.
John Ryan in the San Jose Mercury News writes that the San Francisco 49ers will unveil their new uniforms on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in April.
That does it for the megalinks today.