CBS has assigned its top team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg to the Memphis Regional to broadcast the South Regional games on Friday night: OU-Syracuse game at 6:27 p.m. and North Carolina-Gonzaga at about 9 p.m. It shows the network believes it’s the best set of games in the Sweet 16. North Carolina was ranked No. 1 entering the tournament and OU has the national player of the year in Blake Griffin.
The good contingent of Kansas fans in Oklahoma should get to see most of the Jayhawks game against Michigan State, following the conclusion of the OU game. Of course, they can get on the Internet and watch all the game at March Madness on Demand at NCAA.com.
Ratings for the first two rounds are up 6 percent from 2008, averaging a 5.4 in metered markets.
The other broadcast pairings:
West Regional, Glendale, Ariz., 6:07 p.m. Thursday, Connecticut vs. Purdue, about 8:30 p.m., Memphis vs. Missouri. Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas.
East Regional, Boston, 6:27 p.m. Thursday, Pittsburgh vs. Xavier, about 9 p.m. Duke vs. Villanova. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery.
Midwest Regional, Indianapolis, 6:07 p.m., Louisville vs. Arizona, about 8:30 p.m., Kansas vs. Michigan State. Gus Johnson and Len Elmore.
Although Billy Packer has retired from CBS, he is still providing analysis on the NCAA tournament. Teaming with Bob Knight, his “Billy Packer’s Survive and Advance” airs at midnight Sunday on FSOK. A repeats airs at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Barkley’s hit list
Charles Barkley reveals his golf “hit list” on this week’s episode of “The Haney Project,” 8 p.m. Monday on Golf Channel. Philadelphia sports talk host, Howard Eskin, who is on the “Top 7,” has vowed to run around the golf course in his underwear if Barkley ever beats him.
The Top 7 are the people who have ticked Barkley off and wants to beat on the golf course:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Tiger Woods
3, Dave the Bartender, CHOPS Restaurant & Bar in Philadelphia.
4. Howard Eskin, sports radio personality for WIP-AM in Philadelphia.
5. Roy Green, former NFL wide receiver.
6. Seth Joyner, former NFL linebacker.
7. Jim Murphy, director of golf at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
CBSSports.com, in partnership with the NCAA, is introducing a high-definition quality video player for its NCAA March Madness on Demand video streaming of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Both the standard video player and the high-definition quality option will be offered free of charge. For the first time, live video and audio streaming will available on iPhone and iPod touch.
CBS officials are expecting continued viewership growth for the service, which has proven to be a hit with office workers. In 2008, NCAA March Madness on Demand reached 4.8 million unique visitors, a 164 percent increase over 2007.
The service (ncaa.com/mmod) already is providing highlights of past NCAA tournaments.
Capel on DirecTV special
OU coach Jeff Capel will join coaches Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Bruce Pearl and Lorenzo Romar on DirecTV’s “Bracket Breakdown,” special, which will debut at 8 p.m. Monday on DirecTV channel 101. … Billy Packer and Bob Knight are teaming up to provide analysis of the NCAA men’s tournament on the five-part series “Billy Packer’s Survive and Advance,” which will air at midnight Sundays on Fox Sports Oklahoma. … Westwood One will continue as the exclusive radio partner for NFL under a new two-year agreement … Clark Kellogg has joined Jim Nantz on CBS’ No. 1 NCAA tournament broadcast team. Other pairings: Dick Enberg, Carter Blackburn and Jay Bilas; Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery; Gus Johnson and Len Elmore; Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner; Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel; Craig Bolerjack and Bob Wenzel; Tim Brando and Mike Gminski.
The Dallas Mavericks players aren’t the only Mavs’ employees experiencing the wrath of owner Mark Cuban. He’s also taking shots at the Mavs’ broadcast team — play-by-play voice Mark Followill and longtime analyst Bob Ortegel, who are on year-to-year contracts — as ratings for the team sag.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Cuban called the telecast “stale” and “unimaginative” in e-mails to Mavs director of broadcasting Dave Evans. He was also critical of Ortegel, who in his 21st season calling Mavs games is adhering to a new edict: “Less is more.”
Since the 67-win season in 2006-07, Mavs ratings have dipped from 3.8 to 1.4 on Fox Sports Southwest and from 5.7 to 2.9 on KTXA- 21.
To spice up the telecasts, Cuban told Evans to give up-and-comer talk-radio personality Jeff Wade, aka Skin, an audition as a second analyst. Wade made his debut Jan. 8 and, working pro bono, appears mostly on weekend telecasts. He has become the league’s lone TV analyst who is not a former player or coach.
“Whenever changes are being made, you always wonder, well, are changes being made because of dissatisfaction with what you’re doing?” said Followill, 38. “I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I’m doing the best that I can and hoping that will continue to be good enough.”
In March, ESPN is celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing inspirational stories of young female athletes through a cross-platform initiative, culminating with a one-hour special, “Her Story” at 7 p.m. March 27 on ESPN. The special will include an interview with OU basketball stars Courtney and Ashley Paris, daughters of former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Bubba Paris.
Focusing on female athletes between the ages of 13-24, this month-long effort will kick off Sunday with an investigation into young girls and the underreporting of concussions by reporter Peter Keating (Outside the Lines, 8 a.m.). A series of vignettes, airing multiple times across ESPN’s networks, will also begin Sunday.
Other stories on “Her Story,” hosted by Hannah Storm, include:
— Teenage surfing phenom Bethany Hamilton, who returned to her sport with a vengeance after a shark attack in 2003. Despite losing her left arm, Hamilton has continued to rise in the rankings and become one of the world’s top surfers.
— Twenty years ago, the Women’s Sports Foundation released a study that determined Hispanic girls had far lower participation in sports than other ethnicities. Few studies have updated that premise. Shelley Smith looks at some of the barriers to participation as well as success stories, proving that with the right amount of family and school support, Hispanic girls may just prove to be sport’s fastest growing demographic.
— The rebirth of roller derby, which made a comeback due to a grassroots revival in Austin,
— A feature on Shoni Schimmel, a Native American teenager in Oregon who is among the top high school hoops players in the country but must deal with cultural bias and personal challenges as she heads towards her senior year.
— In addition, fans will be encouraged to post inspirational clips about themselves, a teammate, a coach or a team on ESPN.com’s dedicated Her Story page. The winning clip will be included in the special.
The March 23 issue of ESPN The Magazine cover story will focus on WNBA star Candace Parker, accompanied by an in-depth look at concussions in young girls.
NBA analyst Charles Barkley should have given up on golf a long time ago. Other superstar athletes would have. They wouldn’t put up with the frustration of playing and practicing, but only getting worse. They wouldn’t put up with the public ridicule about an unorthodox swing exposed to millions on television and across the Internet. They wouldn’t put up with repeated hits to their egos by friends and experts in the game.
But because he really loves the game — one of his only private respites in a public life — and truly desires to get better and help other hacks like himself, Barkley is putting his game and life on display in “The Haney Project,” a seven-part, reality series premiering at 8 p.m. Monday on Golf Channel (Cox 60).
Barkley’s quest is simple – to enjoy the game again.
“Golf is really the only thing I’ve failed in life at,” Barkley said. “On every level of basketball, I’ve been really good. This is interesting to me to let this side of me out there. It’s tough for me, but when I signed up for this I said to myself, ‘It can’t get any worse.’”
Longtime friends and golfing buddies Seth Joyner and Roy Green — who appear in the series — sympathize with Barkley, but also never miss an opportunity to poke fun. “He’s been suffering for a long time, but there’s no way in hell I’d get up on national TV if I had a swing like that,” said Joyner, former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker. “I hope he gets fixed, so I won’t have to look at that ugly-ass swing anymore.”
“I wouldn’t want anyone to see me with that swing,” says Green, a teammate of Joyner’s in Philadelphia, but better known as a star receiver for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s. “It’s good that he won’t play with us anymore. It’s too painful – for all of us!”
Barkley says he’s taken hundreds of lessons and even got hypnotized. “All I got out of that was a good nap,” he said. He’s convinced Hank Haney is the answer. Haney has coached hundreds of golf greats over an illustrious career, but none greater than his current student, Tiger Woods.
“He’s a great teacher, but he’s a lot more intense than I thought. You work extremely hard and he gets on you pretty good. I was surprised by that,” he said.
During intense training sessions, Barkley easily hits more than 1,200 golf balls under Haney’s watchful eye. He’s also taken steps to improve his fitness through stretching and cardio workouts.
“He’s been as dedicated a student as I’ve ever had. He’s tried so hard and that’s what it’s going to take to get over the hump,” said Haney.