Wednesday, February 09, 2011

02/10 Quickie: Madness, Duke, Tix, Cam, Habs-Bruins

Since I can remember watching the NCAA Tournament obsessively -- so let's call it at least 25 years -- the ultimate frustration has been being beholden to CBS to program your games for you.

Either the game you really wanted to see wasn't in your TV "region." Or the CBS directors were too slow to change games late.

And so you went to a sports bar, which was fun, but a bit stressful. (Or you had to have a dish and buy a Tournament package.) Then March Madness Online came, and it was a revelation: You could control your own experience -- albeit grainy and a bit herky-jerky. Then MMOD came to the phone, and you could shuttle from work to home and not feel like you were missing anything.

But what they are announcing today is the true Holy Grail: Every NCAA Tournament game, shown live and in its entirety.... on regular ol' TV channels: CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV.

Now you are your own TV programmer -- as SI's Richard Deitsch put it. And it is amazing. Finally: You can flip from game to game -- if you're ninja enough, you can use picture-in-picture and "last channel" and zip around in every possible configuration of timing and interest.

(Equally interesting, the power shifts from CBS producers to... Twitter and Facebook, which will be your ultimate system for knowing what game is reaching its peak interest.)

It is good business for CBS and Turner -- it is a winning scenario for fans.


Duke comes back from down 16 to beat UNC: Duke doesn't win that one -- at least like they did last night -- at the Dean Dome. Nevertheless, it was an impressive rally by Duke -- and a particularly good game from Kyle Singler, who only shot poorly because he used all his energy locking down Harrison Barnes. Of course, Nolan Smith was the star.

To clarify yesterday's point: It's not that every regular-season college basketball game is meaningless, per se; it's just that among the national elite, whether you win or lose a single game in the regular season has absolutely no bearing on your chances of winning six straight in late march. Obviously, it matters a lot to Duke and UNC fans who wins that game between them. But in the grand scheme of national titles? Bupkis. (EXCEPT! To the extent you want to -- or can -- glean clues for late March from individual games, which is something I do -- and regularly causes me bracket problems.)

Georgetown beats Syracuse: Rough sledding for the 'Cuse -- another statement win for the Hoyas. Perennially, I am a sucker for both on my bracket, so this is going to end badly either way.

Huge win for Rutgers over Villanova: Remember when Mike Rice nearly coached Robert Morris to a first-round NCAA Tournament upset over 'Nova? He deserved it then -- and he got it last night. From a recruiting standpoint, it was a monster moment.

(Late night: Utah State loses at Idaho. Utah State is one of those mid-majors that gets ranked but is ultimately -- and I mean "March Madness results" -- overrated. But not before sucking you into picking them to the Sweet 16. Not that I'm bitter....)

NFL Ticket Snafu: I feel bad for the 400 (and possibly additional 850) who really do feel like suing the league is the only way to get fairly treated -- yes, I'm comfortable saying that the league's offer, either option, is not as good as many in the media would spin you to believe -- but are being lumped in with the Cowboys PSL owners who just seem disgruntled and greedy.

Carmelo, Cont'd: For a second, I actually believed he might sign an extension with the Nuggets if they don't trade him -- it's a ton of money, after all. But I hope he doesn't, because he really WANTS to play for New York. He'll be miserable -- if $20M or so richer -- playing in Denver. When you're as rich as Carmelo already is, is $20M worth it? Maybe it is.

Cavs lose 26th straight: But the Wizards, winless on the road, are coming this weekend. So hope is around the corner, Cavs fans. Embrace your destiny!

NFL Draft: Cam Newton is having his "special private workout" today. It's an open question whether he even needs it; his stock is high and only going to get higher. You've seen the mock drafts that have him going no later than 10th to the Redskins; there's one that has him going No. 5 overall to the Cardinals. I think by the time we get to the draft, he is a lock for the Top 10 and will be the first QB taken.

I think the comparisons to Tebow are fair; Newton is bigger and faster and throws a bit better (but I'm not sure he has Tebow's maniacal focus). Both were absurdly productive college QBs playing week-in-week-out against the most NFL-like defenses in the country, and both will have long solid NFL careers.

OK: This Habs-Bruins insanity transcends love of a sport and gets right into "if you love sports -- period -- you love this."

-- D.S.

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