It’s the best time of the year, and I don’t mean Christmas. March is the month of madness. Selection Sunday and the tournament’s first Thursday are like Christmas morning if you ask me. Jim Nantz is calling games this weekend. You know it’s crunch time. I think it would be nice if he could be bothered with at least one regular season game when CBS does not have golf, but so be it.
A number of things have grabbed my attention in the past week. Last weekend there was a video review in the Northern Iowa-Bradley contest. This should shock nobody, because these reviews are out of control. I thought there was clearly some unnecessary late contact, and guessed that it would be a common foul that was followed by a technical. Gene Steratore, who chimed in during NFL broadcasts on CBS, thought there should be nothing other than the original call. My guess turned out to be correct. After the ruling, we suddenly heard that Gene agreed with the call. They got it right. Not what he said a few minutes earlier. There was also some talk by Gene on another play that a player had the ball hit his head and go out of bounds. Analyst Dan Bonner said that Gene must have great eyesight because he didn’t see it. That’s because this didn’t happen.
Later, Clark Kellogg mistakenly said that a flagrant foul was called when highlights were shown. This happened more than once. I believe he said that a flagrant was ruled in three different segments. This could be because of the lengthy delay like we saw during Friday night’s Seton Hall-Marquette contest. The officials take too long reviewing plays. There are other games going on. People stop paying attention and concentrate on live action elsewhere. Speaking of losing concentration, CBS is going back to the old format for revealing which teams are making the NCAA Tournament.
Last year’s debacle was on TBS. CBS will carry the show this weekend. It will again reveal teams in bracket format. Last year’s show revealed schools in alphabetical order, and drew plenty of criticism. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. CBS’s 2019 show will again last 60 minutes, and ironically airs just before 60 Minutes.
There are no major changes in the tournament crews this season. Some sideline reporters have switched teams, and Jim Jackson was added to one crew. He had a mistake on Friday at MSG. A common question is whether or not to foul when up three late. He said there would be a decision if both foul shots were made. Gus Johnson tried to point out his error in subtle fashion by saying that the lead would be four if both free throws were good.
ESPN’s Jay Williams has been in the news. He was critical of Frank Howard for attempting to trip Duke’s Zion Williamson, and claimed to have also been critical when Duke’s Grayson Allen tripped players years ago. However, footage has surfaced of Williams saying that he liked Allen tripping people. Fox broadcaster Charissa Thompson used to date Williams. I was reminded of her mocking him one time. Jay’s twitter handle calls him the real Jay Williams. I remember her saying that somebody was real one time in a post. She stressed that word, and wasn’t talking about Williams. It seemed to be calling out her former man as a liar, or fake.
I have also been less than impressed with his pregame and halftime work in recent days. He could not wait to mention that a spread was covered after one game. It felt forced, although that is probably more of an issue I should take up with his bosses. ESPN is suddenly all over point spreads. In the past it felt special when somebody referred to gambling. Often the references were in passing, and the subject seemed taboo. Things have changed, and ESPN now has a daily gambling show. I’m sure they are focusing on promoting that. Getting back to Williams, he mistakenly called Duke’s superstar Zion Washington instead of Williamson. There were several times when something he said has gotten my attention in the past week, and never in a good way.
One more analyst has annoyed me lately. I thought Jordan Cornette’s performance was poor during the Monmouth game against Canisius. After Iona won the following night, he said they looked like a second weekend tournament team. Iona had been projected as a 16, and possibly playing on Tuesday or Wednesday. This guy has them taking out a 1, and then advancing after that! They might not even make it to Thursday. UMBC was the first team seeded 16 to beat a 1 last year, but even they didn’t win the next game. Actually, second weekend means a win in the sweet 16 as well. Apparently he has Iona making an incredible run.