CBS earned a 4.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the men's NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show yesterday from 6:00-7:00pm ET, up 10% from last year. This year's show had a change in format compared to last year. Whereas the four No. 1 seeds had been revealed at the top of the program in years past, this year's show revealed region by region. The 4.4 overnight is also flat compared to the show in '11 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes yesterday's selection show was "the same old, same old." It "virtually ignored what is usually the star attraction in the rest of TV sports: the athletes themselves." Very few players were "mentioned in passing although, before the selection show, coaches were interviewed" (USA TODAY, 3/18). Xavier AD and NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chair Mike Bobinski was interviewed during the show, and in San Jose, Jon Wilner writes he "was ready for the tough but fair questions thrown his way by CBS analysts" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 3/18). USA TODAY's Chris Chase kept a running blog of the show and wrote in a year "without much outrage" in college basketball, the Bobinski interview was "appropriately toothless." CBS' Seth Davis "tried to get riled up about Middle Tennessee State making the field with only one win over the RPI top 100, but seeing as how someone on set clapped when MTSU was announced into the field, it came across as forced" (USATODAY.com, 3/17). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted there was “not any high-pitched screeching” about the “teams on the bubble that didn’t make the tournament.” The “snubbed teams this time appear to have been justly snubbed, at least judging by the lack of indignation expressed by the analysts about the teams left out” (JSONLINE.com, 3/17).
MUST-SEE TV: BROADCASTING & CABLE’s Andrea Morabito reports CBS and Turner execs are “unsure whether the uncertainty of having no clear frontrunners is good or bad for viewership” of the tournament. Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy said, “It’s a great debate. I’d like to see obviously big names, big brands get in, but you know we had great ratings when it was Butler in the finals and VCU so I think it’s about quality of the game and interest. Cinderella teams are as interesting as dominant brands.” CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus said, “Ideally in the Final Four you want a mix of the power teams that have the national reputations like North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, but if you can have a Butler, George Mason or a VCU, that adds to it. It’s how the story lines develop. You really don’t want a Final Four totally devoid of traditional basketball powerhouses from a ratings standpoint” (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/18 issue). Kansas and North Carolina could potentially meet in a third-round matchup in the South region, and in Charlotte, Jack Daly notes the potential matchup is "the sort of made-for-TV drama that will pull serious and casual college basketball fans alike" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/18). In Tampa Bay, Antonya English writes TV "could make this matchup a ratings bonanza" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/18). In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes another potential UNC-Kansas matchup may "make for great television, but it's not fair to either team given the history involved" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/18). Meanwhile, the MERCURY NEWS' Wilner writes with Kentucky not making the 68-team field, "So much for the committee selling out for TV ratings" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 3/18).
DOUG E. FRESH: In Denver, Dusty Saunders notes fans will once again "find TNT talent such as Steve Kerr and Marv Albert heavily involved in the tournament." During Charles Barkley's two previous times covering the tournament, he "provided cogent commentary spiked with dashes of humor." Meanwhile, Doug Gottlieb, who left ESPN for CBS Sports last year, will "have a prominent role" during the coverage (DENVER POST, 3/18). USA TODAY's Chase wrote Gottlieb yesterday provided a "shot of life to the usually-staid CBS studio show." Barkley has "served the same function in recent years, the main difference being the fact that Gottlieb has watched college basketball games this year." But Gottlieb "monopolized the show by complaining about Florida's seed like it's the biggest injustice since 'Dances with Wolves' over 'Goodfellas'" (USATODAY.com, 3/17). In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote the "only rock-solid prediction I can make is that you will either love or loathe cocksure CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb by the time the tournament is over" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/18).
COSMIC CHARLIE: In Phoenix, Paola Boivin wrote ESPN's Bill Walton was his "kooky self while working the Pac-12 Tournament." Boivin: "I actually enjoy Walton and find his quirky perspective refreshing but he took it too far during the Oregon-Washington game." As a clip was shown of mascots climbing out of a limousine, Walton "joked that he was 'in the back along with Ray Lewis and it was unbelievable how much fun' it was." He basically was "making light of the double murder that Lewis was involved in." Dave Pasch, Walton's announcing partner, was "really the star," as he "deftly handles Walton’s wackiness” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/17). In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce wrote there are times when Walton's "bluntness is a welcome relief from the kind of don’t-hurt-anybody’s-feelings analysis we hear so much of on TV." And the fact that he is "being blunt about Pac-12 teams on the Pac-12 Network is sometimes pretty amazing." At the same time, there are "moments when you have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would allow Walton to say anything live on TV" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/16). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Yoder wrote Pasch again "plays his role as the straight man well." Pasch in a tweet wrote, "I like working w/ Bill. Keeps me on my toes. Love his passion for bball, life, the Dead. I laugh, I cry, I cry laughing" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/16).