I have to admit, opening weekend of the men’s NCAA tournament has been the best I’ve seen in a long time. While I’m not a fan of how many games were “scheduled” after 9:30p on the East Coast, I’m much happier with the ability to watch every game versus only having CBS and having them and the local affiliate designate our primary game.
On Doug Gottlieb and Jim Nantz
Speaking of CBS, let’s talk announcing for a second. I have to say I don’t watch a ton of basketball during the regular season - everyone knows I see enough of it anyway - but I want to say how impressed I’ve become with Doug Gottlieb. His comparisons to tournament basketball and AAU basketball are a bit over the top, but he’s prepared and did an excellent job with Ian Eagle from Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Speaking of Nationwide Arena, if you’ve never been there, that place is very nice. I still think Value City Area is a smidge better, but both facilities are easily the best in the entire state of Ohio.
Next week, I have the pleasure of watching Mid-West regional action from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and yes the #1 overall seed Kentucky will be in town, as will Notre Dame, Wichita State and Wisconsin. It should be ridiculously crazy in a city that’s hosting its first ever regional round. Cleveland has only hosted three other tournament years - 2000, 2005, and 2011. All have been opening rounds and it most likely will not host a Final Four in the foreseeable future.
All this brings us back to broadcasting, Kentucky, and Doug Gottlieb. It’s surprising, with the number of top-tier marketing teams that will be in the Cleveland region, that CBS wouldn’t bring the “A” group of Jim Nantz, Bill Rafferty, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson to town, but instead will leave Nantz and crew in their normal Friday/Sunday spot in Houston. Cleveland will instead get Marv Albert, Chris Webber, Len Elmore, and Lewis Johnson. While it may seem like a perplexing decision, for Nantz, Houston is home, and who wouldn’t want to work close to home even when you make $7 million dollars per year to be the lead announcer for basketball, football and golf?
Can the ACC break the drought?
The ACC hasn’t had a team in the Final Four since Duke’s 2010 national championship. Duke, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, and Notre Dame all play next week in the round of 16. I’m not a bracket guy, but of the five schools remaining, my gut tells me Duke has the best chance to make the trip to Indianapolis. Louisville and NC State will face each other Friday at 7:30 and I believe the winner faces Tom Izzo and Michigan Stat,e where they will lose.
Notre Dame plays Wichita State on Thursday at 7:15, but I believe either loses to Kentucky Saturday evening. As a side note, I cannot wait to see Kentucky and West Virginia play. I think Huggins has the Mountaineers playing great defense, and might be the toughest challenger to Kentucky’s run to 40 wins.
In Los Angeles, I think Wisconsin shuts down North Carolina. I think Bo Ryan will use the entirety of the 30-second shot clock on nearly every possession and win a low scoring affair on Thursday evening.
In Houston, Duke has Utah - who beat Georgetown - who always seems like never wants to play in the tournament. I’m not sure if there’s no motivation on John Thompson III’s part, or if the team peaks too early in the season. I think Duke then beats Gonzaga (not easily), who I hope finally sends UCLA home.
On the podcast last week with Seth, Mike and Basketball Tournament Czar Damon Del Rosario, we agreed that UCLA had no business in the tournament, but they proved us all wrong by beating Larry Brown-led SMU then pounding UAB who beat Iowa State by one point. So, as Damon says, there was plenty of motivating material for UCLA to prove that they did belong, and they’ve done that. I think their run though ends with a loss to Gonzaga who is out for blood.
Does the ACC need one or more teams in the Final Four to prove that it’s the best conference in college basketball? Nah, I think they’ve proved that with just the number of teams admitted to the tournament and how well they played in the first two rounds.
Can These Games be Any Longer?
Forty minutes of basketball. Each team gets 5 time outs. Sometimes they’re full 75-second timeouts, sometimes they’re 30-second timeouts. Typically they’re all extended to full 90-second media length timeouts. Of the five each team gets, there’s a mandatory ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ timeout in the first half. On top of the 10 team timeouts, there are the four media timeouts per half which are allegedly 90-seconds.
In one game, the teams were literally standing on the floor for 40 seconds because the announcing crews were still tearing down from their halftime show.
Oh, and don’t forget monitor reviews, and any other time the officials need to confer with each other about something, and if there is an injury to someone somewhere. Blood and sweat cleanup.
Did I get all the stoppages? I understand CBS and Turner have to make money, but let’s get real about this. ELIMINATE the mandatory timeout in the first half, and not just for the tournament. Coaches don’t want it, teams don’t want it, and outside of the tournament, the media rarely has time to run one commercial.
Another suggestion, this one by Damon which I think is really good. If you score, you can’t call timeout. You don’t have possession of the ball anymore.
Eliminate ALL back-to-back timeouts. No further explanation needed.
Last one, and no one would like this, but whatever, you can’t use a timeout to save you from a violation. If you’re inbounding the ball you get five seconds, at four you call timeout, then you return and you get a new five second count.
You now have one second to inbound the ball. One possession won’t kill the game for you. Have a play. Execute it.
When you’re in the backcourt you get 10 seconds to cross the division line. At eight or nine or whatever, you call timeout and when you return you get a new 10-second count.
I understand that television networks are money-making ventures, but please, our time is valuable and if you think it's bad at home, just think how brutal these television timeouts for those at the arenas. There's only so much you can talk to your friends about during timeouts before it's time to start checking Tinder.
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