CBS and Turner combined to average a 7.3 rating for Thursday's coverage of NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games, an increase of 4% over last year's 7.0 rating. The improvement came despite three of the four games being decided by 10 points or more. The tournament across TBS, TNT, CBS and truTV is averaging a 6.4 rating, up 5% compared to last year (Turner).
GOTTLIEB'S GAFFE: CBS' Doug Gottlieb apologized Thursday night for saying he was trying to bring "white man's perspective" to the net's studio set. Gottlieb said, "It was not a smart thing to say." The AP noted Gottlieb was on the pregame show with Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, and his comment ended up "sparking criticism on Twitter that his words were inappropriate." Gottlieb initially said, "I don't know why you guys ask me, I'm just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man's perspective." Anthony "made a face after Gottlieb's remark and Kenny Smith said he had 'jumped right into it'" (AP, 3/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote it "didn't take long" for Gottlieb to "stick his foot in his mouth." Why someone would consider skin color a "relevant topic on a pregame show discussing college basketball is anyone's guess, but here's betting Gottlieb won't be trying to mine that topic for a cheap laugh any more" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/28). The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION noted Gottlieb's comment led to some "awkward moments" with Gumbel, Anthony, Smith and Barkley. Their reactions "suggest it's one of those scenarios we've all seen: that guy in the group who thinks he can make this kind of joke because everybody is cool but he's such a clown he doesn't realize no one else is down with him like that" (AJC.com, 3/28). But Barkley Thursday night said, "I want to say something about Doug Gottlieb. He made a joke earlier tonight and people are going crazy, all those idiots on Twitter, which I would never, ever do. Listen -- me, Kenny, Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel did not take that personally, so all you people at home who got no life who are talking bad about Doug Gottlieb, get a life. It’s over with and it’s no big deal” (“AT&T at the Half,” CBS, 3/28).
A TIMELESS DUO: CBS' Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery will call Saturday's Syracuse-Marquette East Region Final, and USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes they still "connect with viewers -- even much younger ones." Lundquist said that their "chemistry was obvious right from the start when they worked two college games together in 1982." CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus "put them together on the 2000 NCAA Tournament -- and they have been teamed ever since." Hiestand notes the 72-year-old Lundquist and the 69-year-old Raftery individually have "worked the most tournaments of the current announcers." Raftery is calling his 31st while Lundquist is on his 29th. Hiestand asks, "So how long will they be coming to our couches?" Raftery: "I never think of longevity but just doing the best job I can each night." Lundquist: "It's a privilege being involved in the tournament, and we don't take it lightly. There is no exit plan" (USA TODAY, 3/29).
TIME IS MONEY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes now all "pretense the NCAA Tournament is formatted for anything better than allowing TV to make back some of its Tournament rights money has been removed." Mushnick notes the Duke-Creighton Round of 32 matchup began at 9:48pm ET "and ended at midnight." Duke "arrived on campus" in Durham, N.C. at 4:30am (N.Y. POST, 3/29).