Viewer's guide to March Madness (cont.)
Announcers are important. Who will be calling the tournament?
The Final Four and championship game announcers are Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr. They will also call the First Four games. The regional teams include Nantz and Kellogg, Marv Albert and Kerr, Gus Johnson and Elmore, Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery. The opening weekend announcer teams are Tim Brando and Mike Gminski; Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel; Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel; and trio of Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner.
David Aldridge, Sam Ryan, Craig Sager, Marty Snider, Lesley Visser and Tracy Wolfson will serve as reporters during the tournament.
Wait, Marv Albert is doing games?
In a word, YESSSSSS. Albert will partner with Kerr to call Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games from the Tulsa Regional. It's the first time in three decades he'll call college games: he actually called Kerr's games when he played for Arizona.
What's the deal with the pregame, halftime and postgame shows?
That's a question most of Seth Davis' immediate family will be asking, too. truTV is where you'll get the majority of your pregame information. (The channel is calling its pregame show "NCAA Tip-Off.") The network's coverage will debut on March 15 at 6 p.m., an hour before the opening tip-off of the first game of the tournament. On the opening Thursday and Friday, truTV will hold a 90-minute pregame show beginning at 11 a.m. and leading up to its game coverage. CBS games will start on both days at noon, so you can opt to watch live action or pregame show.
CBS will also have a pregame show presence. The network's traditional "Road To The Final Four" show will air before its Elite Eight coverage on March 26 and March 27. CBS also has a pregame show before the Final Four, at 4 p.m. on April 2.
What about the postgame?
Both truTV and TBS will feature postgame studio shows. The postgame show ("Inside March Madness") debuts on truTV on March 15 following the conclusion of the second First Four game. truTV will also air a postgame show at the conclusion of games on March 16, 17 and 18. The postgame then switches to TBS for March 19 and 20. TBS will also host a postgame show for the regional semifinals on March 24 and 25. The postgame show returns to truTV for Elite Eight games on March 26 and 27 (following the end of the CBS games) and March 27. truTV will air a postgame show after the Final Four games conclude on April 2. It will also air a postgame show after the championship game on April 4 (probably around midnight).
So who is on these pregame, halftime and postgame shows?
The studio programming for pregame, halftime and postgame shows will originate from New York and Atlanta, with the main anchor chair shared by CBS veteran Greg Gumbel and longtime TNT host Ernie Johnson. Barkley and Kenny Smith will provide analysis throughout the tournament from the CBS studios in New York City (with the exception of opening night) alongside Gumbel or Johnson. CBS analyst Greg Anthony will also be part of the New York-based studio show. Turner's Matt Winer will host the Atlanta-based studio show with Reggie Miller, Steve Smith and Davis. The New York-based talent will be rotating throughout the tournament, so you could see something like Gumbel, Barkley and Anthony during a halftime segment.
The opening night (March 15) studio team (airing from the Atlanta studios) will consist of Gumbel, Anthony, Barkley, Davis, Johnson and Smith. Turner will break the sextet into subgroups at different times during the evening. That group (sans Davis) will be in New York for Thursday's games. truTV's pregame and postgame on the opening Thursday and Friday features Winer, Davis and Smith.
Does Barkley actually know college basketball? We'll find out. Said Barkley: I'm not going to watch 100 college basketball teams play, that's bulls--t. I'm going to do the best job of watching 30 or 40 teams play and the rest I'm going to have to get my college coach friends [to help] and other college analysts [to help]. Some of these teams you can watch one time, but that doesn't mean I know them."
Does Barkley have a finals pick?
"If I was a betting man," he said, laughing, "I would take Kansas and Texas. Ohio State is in the conversation. If I could take Texas, Kansas and Ohio State, I like my chances. And I'd double down, too.
Will there be games CBS will take for itself?
Well, CBS does have the rights to the regional finals, as well as the Final Four and title game, through 2015. Regarding how the games will be divvied up in early rounds this year, McManus said that the programming and sales staffs for both networks will discuss what's best for all. "I think there might be horse trading back and forth but we will work it out," McManus said. "There might be a window where a game works best for CBS or Turner, but what is important is cumulative audience."
What, exactly, is truTV and why am I watching basketball on it?
CBS/Turner needed four channels to cover the event because all games will be covered on a national basis. Since there are 16 games on the opening Thursday and Friday, CBS/Turner needed a fourth channel. truTV is in 93 million homes.
What if I don't know where truTV is on my cable dial?
One of the best features of March Madness on Demand (MMOD) is the personalizable My Channel feature. Whether you are watching on your computer, iPhone, iPodTouch, or iPad, just plug in your zip code and cable provider from the list provided and MMOD will show you a complete TV schedule for every game.
OK, I think I have truTV. But can I get it in HD?
Depends on where you live. Sports Business Daily reported Thursday DirecTV will carry truTV's NCAA men's basketball tournament games in HD under the terms of a deal the satellite operator finalized with Turner Sports this week. (DirecTV, with about 19 million subscribers, was the biggest distributor who did not have a carriage deal in place for truTV HD.) Our advice is to ask your cable company and satellite provider if you get truTV in HD.
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