March makeover: Ain't seen nothing yet

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 13, 2011 - 9:13 PM

Three more teams, ramped-up television coverage ... it's a March makeover for an already wildly popular, and lucrative, sports institution.

hide

Members of the media looked over the completed basketball court inside Ford Field in Detroit, site of the Midwest Regional.

Photo: Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As you filled out and tore up your brackets, immersed yourself in buzzer-beaters and shocking upsets for four solid days, and rooted for every underdog from Butler to Binghamton, here's the one thought that probably never occurred to you about the NCAA men's basketball tournament: Gee, it seems so small.

Silly sports fan. That quaint, miniature version of March Madness is about to seem as obsolete as peach baskets.

Everything about the 2011 tournament, which takes over America's consciousness Sun- day when the pairings are revealed, is bigger and, the NCAA prays, better. There are three additional teams invited, an extra day of competition, dozens more games available to watch on three new channels, and way, way more money at stake than ever before. Heck, even CBS' Final Four broadcast team has added a third voice.

"In many ways, it's a whole new adventure," said Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's executive vice president in charge of the tournament, which has expanded to 68 teams. "Fans are going to find it to be a fantastic experience. Sometimes I look at it and wonder why we weren't doing this long ago."

Maybe it just took a while for TV executives to fathom writing checks worth $10.8 billion, the astronomical fee CBS and Turner Broadcasting will pony up over the next 14 years to televise, stream and distribute the tournament. The networks won a bidding war with ESPN and Fox by agreeing to a 40 percent hike in rights fees, and in doing so, agreed to a unique partnership that will, for the first time, allow fans -- provided they have cable -- to watch every minute of every game.

And that's most of us. Of the nation's approximately 126 million households, virtually all have access to CBS, more than 100 million have TBS and TNT, and about 92 million have truTV.

No more regional telecasts, no more split-screens, no more switching from game to game for "live look-ins" at the whim of network programmers.

"We've empowered the viewer," said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. "Whatever game you want to watch, it's available. In that sense, it's a total departure."

That's because while CBS will televise 26 games over three weeks, roughly as many as the network has for the past several years, the other 41 games will air on a trio of Turner cable channels: TBS, TNT and truTV. The concept for the busy first weekend is "four national telecasts," McManus said, each channel airing a game from tipoff to the final buzzer, no matter how lopsided the score. Rather than leaving a game in progress to air the final seconds of a tight contest, announcers will simply alert fans that they might want to switch to the channel airing that game.

"It's going to take some time, but once the viewer gets used to it, I think he's going to like it. He's got the control in his hands," said McManus, pointing out that starting times will be spread out, not bunched together as in the past, in hopes of avoiding several games ending at once. "At first, he might sit there saying, 'Why does CBS stay with this 25-point game? In the past, we would protect the local [stations] and switch, but there's no switching to another game in this format. What we're going to do is navigate the viewer [by saying], 'There's a two-point game over on TNT right now.' "

That sort of cross-promotion is normally inconceivable, but CBS and Turner's alliance includes a unique provision: They are selling commercial time jointly, so national ads on one network will air on all. That makes maximizing everyone's ratings more important, and the channels will cooperate on divvying up the schedule.

"We'll do some horse-trading, back and forth," on who gets what games, McManus said. "But we're out to reach the largest cumulative audience."

Part of that audience will be online, too. All games will be streamed for free at the March Madness on Demand website, and the NCAA's new "March Madness" app, available at Apple's app store, lets fans watch for free on their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, plus participate in online chats, post to Twitter and Facebook, and access statistics, schedules and highlights. (An Android phone app is also available but does not include live streaming of games.) The end to regional telecasts means stations no longer can count on airing their local teams' games. Had Minnesota made the field, for instance, the Gophers would be as likely to appear on cable as on WCCO.

That's likely to be unpopular with CBS affiliates, which normally register huge ratings on their local tournament games, and especially with fans who don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV. Brien Kennedy, general manager of the network-owned WCCO, declined to be interviewed, but McManus said CBS had little choice.

"All I can say to that is, it's much better [for CBS stations] than the alternative, which was having the entire tournament on ESPN," he said. "In the past, when we gave the Duke game to Raleigh and the Illinois game to Chicago, it was obviously much more attractive for our affiliates, but that scenario just was not available to us under this deal."

A few games are already set: CBS gets all four regional finals and the Final Four, which the network has broadcast since 1991, for the next five years. (But in 2016, TBS and CBS will begin alternating the national semifinals and championship game, the first time the final will be on cable.) And truTV, a channel once prophetically named Court TV, will broadcast the tournament's new "First Four," a pair of games each on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Two of the games pit the lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers and two match the last four at-large teams, with the winners advancing to the usual 64-team draw on Thursday.

"Those games are going to be exciting," said Jim Nantz, who will be joined by Clark Kellogg and new addition Steve Kerr, the former Suns executive who led Arizona to the Final Four in 1988, on CBS' lead announcing team. "They're the beginning of an exciting new era."

  • related content

  • U awaits NIT bid but also gains guard for future

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    As the Gophers pondered what will become of the rest of the season, they received good news about next season.

  • Your bracket is growing appendages

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    The look of clean lines on a 64-team bracket is a thing of the past. Unless, of course, you take Tuesday's and Wednesday's games off.

  • Who's in the NCAA tournament?

    Sunday March 13, 2011

    College basketball writer Myron P. Medcalf fills in the blanks for the 68-team field:

  • Ready at the remote: About the coverage

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    College basketball fans are going to want their TV schedules close at hand and remotes fully charged when the NCAA tournament starts Tuesday with two games. Every game will be...

  • Former Gopher recalls fateful day in 1993

    Sunday March 13, 2011

    When the 64th and final bid flashed on the screen, the Gophers were left in stunned silence -- and out of the NCAA tournament.

  • NCAA tournament dates

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    Today: Selection show, 5 p.m., Ch. 4

  • Growth in the NCAA tournament

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    Number of NCAA tournament teams since 1975:

  • The first four NCAA games

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    In the new world, there will two games each on Tuesday and Wednesday (televised by truTV) in Dayton, Ohio:

  • NCAA announcing crew

    Saturday March 12, 2011

    Broadcasters known more for their NBA expertise will join the likes of CBS mainstays Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Greg Gumbel for TV coverage of the NCAA tournament. Here's the...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 73 1st OT 1:50
Villanova 74
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 57 2nd Half 5:47
Binghamton 42
Montreat 45 2nd Half 6:28
Campbell 76
Delaware 57 2nd Half 8:33
Fair-Dickinson 58
South Florida 42 2nd Half 10:55
Florida State 50
Vanderbilt 49 2nd Half 5:54
Georgia Tech 51
SC State 52 2nd Half 7:32
Houston 47
Missouri 43 2nd Half 10:51
Illinois 44
Truett-McConnell 41 2nd Half 9:52
Jacksonville 65
Toledo 81 2nd Half 2:45
McNeese State 66
Elon 49 2nd Half 11:07
UNC Greensboro 42
Drexel 36 2nd Half 7:56
Penn State 56
St Francis-PA 61 2nd Half 9:44
Rutgers 52
Albany 58 2nd Half 3:32
Yale 56
PSU-Beaver 47 2nd Half 7:48
Longwood 87
Eastern Ill 44 2nd Half 8:06
Indiana State 40
Indiana 38 2nd Half
Butler 38
Marshall 24 1st Half 7:26
Arkansas State 18
Lafayette 14 1st Half 7:20
Kansas 28
Oral Roberts 12 1st Half 9:18
Memphis 22
Western Mich 17 1st Half 7:44
Northwestern 11
Delaware State 11 1st Half 6:57
Oregon 28
Fla Atlantic 23 1st Half 3:19
St Francis-NY 19
Arkansas Tech 20 1st Half 6:37
Stephen F Austin 31
Howard Payne 17 1st Half 5:18
Texas-Arlington 30
UMBC 27 1st Half 5:12
Kennesaw St 26
St Josephs (IN) 12 1st Half 10:47
Chicago State 12
Eastern Mich 20 1st Half 5:32
Missouri State 18
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 7 2nd Qtr 5:10
Texas-El Paso 3
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 33 2nd Half 7:28
Kansas State 53
Missouri 51 2nd Half 9:53
Wake Forest 47
Robert Morris 49 2nd Half 5:19
Cornell 54
Air Force 31 2nd Half 7:45
Abilene Christian 65
Hampton 40 2nd Half 9:14
James Madison 61
American Univ 52 2nd Half 7:32
MD-Eastern Shore 42
Texas Southern 46 2nd Half 11:57
TX A&M-CC 40
Tenn Tech 40 2nd Half 6:13
NC A&T 48
Presbyterian 41 2nd Half 1:47
NC Central 33
Penn 53 2nd Half 4:17
Drexel 56
Lipscomb 31 2nd Half 1:59
Xavier 57
Vermont 36 2nd Half 8:27
Green Bay 43
Charleston Southern 32 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 43
Ohio Christian 60 2nd Half 0:50
Akron 95
Jacksonville 47 2nd Half 8:32
Murray State 62
(17) Rutgers 51 2nd Half 6:33
Iona 49
Indiana 80 2nd Half 3:28
Oakland 56
Indiana State 37 2nd Half
SMU 17
Denver 24 2nd Half 20:00
Purdue 28
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
TX-San Antonio 6 1st Half 12:50
Texas Tech 5
UCF 16 1st Half 5:35
Middle Tennessee 32
Campbell 15 1st Half 13:33
Bethune-Cookman 11
Florida A&M 25 1st Half 5:32
SE Louisiana 17
Northwestern St 16 1st Half 7:19
Jackson State 10
Lehigh 21 1st Half 3:59
Arizona State 36
Valparaiso 9 1st Half 13:20
SIU-Edwardsville 6
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close