On this NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday, it’s time to present some sports media thoughts and as usual, they come in bullet form.
- With college basketball’s conference tournaments wrapping up and we get ready for three awesome weeks of the NCAA Tournament, ESPN’s coverage of Championship Week (11 days in reality) has been nothing short of stellar. Whether it be the mid-major tournaments or the BCS conferences, for the most part, the production of the games has been clean, and the transitions from game to game have been quite good. Some of the announcing on the mid-major tournaments have been lacking, but overall, it’s been good. I wish CBS/Turner could bring over the Big East team of Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery as one of its crews. Sean and Jay have worked for CBS in the past and Raft currently works with Uncle Verne Lundquist on the Tournament, but I feel Sean, Jay and Raft give ESPN its best college basketball team.
The studio with Rece Davis leading as the main host along with Karl Ravech and Ryan Burr have done well. I like Hubert Davis as one of the studio analysts, but Digger Phelps has been grating on me in recent years.
But overall, I give ESPN an A for its Championship Week coverage. College basketball is one of the sports that the Alleged Worldwide Leader does well from beginning to end.
- With CBS/Turner taking over the main college basketball stage starting on Tuesday, it means Jim Nantz will be the lead announcer once again. Up until Saturday when he called the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, he had only called one regular season game this season. In recent years, Nantz has called one regular season college basketball game. Granted, he’s busy in December and January calling the NFL and he also does the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing in February. But is it necessary to sacrifice college basketball in the process? I’ve gotten on Joe Buck for calling half of the MLB on Fox schedule, but in Nantz’s case, it’s even less.
I think it’s time for CBS to name either Kevin Harlan or Ian Eagle as the #1 college basketball play-by-play man or have Jim Nantz commit to more games. CBS can contend that by the time the NCAA Tournament ends, Nantz will have called 12 games, but that’s not good enough.
If ESPN had the tournament, it would have Dan Shulman as the lead and he would have called over 20 regular season games along with the ACC Tournament. That’s what the lead announcer should do, call a full slate of regular season games, not just one. Just as I do with Joe Buck on Fox’s MLB schedule, I will keep track of how many regular season college basketball games Jim Nantz calls for CBS.
- Lastly, I want to give shoutouts to two Friends of Fang’s Bites for work over the last two days. Jen Royle made her first appearance on Comcast SportsNet New England’s Sports Tonight program on Friday night. She discussed baseball with co-hosts Michael Holley and Lou Merloni. I thought she did a very good job and looked comfortable on the air. Here’s hoping for more appearances on CSN for Jen. And CSN should not have Merloni co-host. Brutal.
On Saturday, Courtney Fallon had the rare extended local sports segment on WLNE (ABC6) in Providence, a whopping six and a half minutes. And she used the time wisely focusing on the RI high school championship hockey and basketball games. This is the way local sports can differentiate itself from ESPN and not lose time by keeping hyperlocal and finding compelling stories. Courtney did a bang up job in her segment.
Just three topics for Sunday. I hope you’ve turned your clocks ahead one hour. Back later tonight with NCAA Tournament announcing assignments.