March Madness: Get Your Remotes Ready! | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / June 5.
  • March Madness: Get Your Remotes Ready!

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    NEW YORK — My 82-year-old father calls it a “zapper.”

    My 6-year-old daughter, Grace, used to refer to it as a “te-mote.”

    Whatever you call it, you better have your remote handy when March Madness rolls around.

    That’s because for the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament, four different networks will broadcast the games.

    CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV will show every game of the new 68-team event beginning March 15.

    “Everyone in America is going to be able to see every game, beginning to end,” Jeff Behnke, senior vice president of Turner Sports, said during a breakfast with reporters Friday in Manhattan.

    Here are a few things you, as a fan, need to know:

    • CBS Sports and Turner Sports signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA to carry the tournament, outbidding ESPN for the rights to the event.
    • Four networks — CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV — will carry the games up until the Sweet 16, at which point truTV will no longer be involved. From the Elite 8 forward, every game will be shown on CBS. All games will be shown on staggered start times.
    • Instead of CBS switching from one game to another, leaving some fans unhappy (“Why did you switch away from my alma mater Duke even if it’s a blowout?”), the networks will now actively encourage viewers to switch networks from blowouts to barnburners if they want to catch another game. “That’s unheard of in the television business,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. “You’re sending somebody over to another channel.”
    • That means if you’re at home, get the remote — or zapper — ready. If you’re in a bar, or restaurant, be prepared to tell the bartender to switch games.
    • Between 2016 and 2024, CBS and TBS will alternate broadcasting the Final Four and championship game. TBS kicks it off in 2016.
    • This year the tournament will expand to 68 teams and begins with the First Four on Tuesday, March 15. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr will call the action in the Tuesday games, while Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, along with courtside reporter Craig Sager, will cover the Wednesday First Four games. Nantz, Kellogg and Kerr will team up again when the tournament concludes ¬†with the Final Four and championship games on Saturday, April 2 and Monday, April 4. Nantz will be covering his 26th Final Four and national championship, Kellogg will be working both events for the third time, and Kerr joins to call his first Final Four and NCAA championship. “I grew up a college basketball fan more than the NBA,” Kerr said Friday, adding that he has prepared by doing three college games on Fox Sports West and staying in regular touch with Jay Bilas.
    • The winners of Tuesday’s First Four games advance to Thursday’s games, and Wednesday’s winners play Friday.
    • Two studios, based in New York and Atlanta, will cover the action. Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson will share hosting duties each day. Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith will provide analysis during the tournament alongside Gumbel or Johnson from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York. Analysts Reggie Miller and Seth Davis will join the New York studio rotation for the second week of the tournament. Matt Winer will host the studio coverage from Turner’s Atlanta studio with analysts Davis and Steve Smith.
    • The following teams were announced for the second and third rounds of the tournament, with the play-by-play person first, followed by the analyst. Those with an asterisk will cover the regional semifinals and finals.
    • Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg*
    • Marv Albert/Steve Kerr*
    • Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery*
    • Gus Johnson/Len Elmore*
    • Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner
    • Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel
    • Tim Brando/Mike Gminski
    • Spero Dedes/Bob Wenzel
    Albert, the longtime voice of the Nets and Knicks, recalled covering college games in the 1970s and ’80s — including the Phil Sellers-led Rutgers run to the Final Four in 1976 and U.S. Reed’s buzzer-beater for Arkansas against Louisville in 1981 — and said he was anxious to get back to the college game. “I can’t wait,” he said.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.