Madness Off to Slow Start With Long Selection Show
March 14, 2016

Two hours to reveal a 68-team bracket? Really? That's almost how long it takes to play a college basketball game, and this year, it was the duration of the CBS College Basketball Tournament Selection Show, which was hijacked by the Turner Sports crew. Yeah, it was a long two hours.

First of all, not only did we get Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg, and Seth Davis, but they forced Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley on us, which is fine if you don't unveil one region, make us wait half-an-hour while Barkley figures out to use the touch screen to predict games he knows nothing about, and then give us another region. It was comical for the first few minutes, but some of us just wanted to know if San Diego State made it or not.

Too bad many of us weren't aware of this until after the fact, but someone (on the NCAA selection committee perhaps) tweeted the complete 68-team field before CBS made the full announcement. The network is very upset (and rightfully so because they have exclusive rights), but if you take just a half-hour to announce the teams, maybe you don't have that problem. Some of those live shots of teams waiting to find out if they made it in were just ceremonial, because the teams already knew.

Also, for some of us native southern Californians, the news wasn't all that good once CBS did slog through the 68 teams in 120 minutes. San Diego State didn't make it. We were aware UCLA wasn't going to get in, but it turns out USC did. By the way, that's the first time in 31 years (1985) that has happened—USC in and UCLA out. Remember the Villanova defeats Georgetown game (if you are old enough)? That was the year. The Trojans lost in the first round to Illinois State, but the Bruins were absent.

And what happened to the Bruins anyway? They beat Kentucky after getting smoked by them last year. They had an early loss to Monmouth but defeated Gonzaga and narrowly lost at North Carolina. Somehow, they wound up 6-12 in the Pac-12, third from the bottom, and ended up with a losing record overall (15-17). The calls for Coach Steve Alford's job haven't reached up here yet, and they probably won't, but Bruinworld is not happy.

If you like mid-majors, this isn't the year for you. No St. Mary's, Gonzaga wouldn't have made it if they didn't win their conference tournament, and Wichita State has to go through that play-in round. For the rest of California, Fresno State got in, and defeated San Diego State to do it. Cal will face Hawai'i—the only team in the Big West that isn't from the Golden State, and congratulations to Cal State Bakersfield. The prize for their first ever tournament bid as a 15 seed? Oklahoma. Oh well.

Bracketville is always a busy place this time of year, but with baseball beckoning, no Bruins, and no Aztecs, the tournament is going to seem a lot quieter this year. There are possible first weekend matchups of Texas-Texas A&M and Indiana-Kentucky to check out. And for you anti-USC fans out there? The Trojans face Providence on Thursday, and if they win, they'll likely lose to North Carolina on Saturday. Fight on.

Baseball bits: Two Marysville Gold Sox alumni were featured this week in articles on One was not so good news with the Astros sending Yuba City native Max Stassi to see a hand specialist, but there was a great feature on Quincy's Cody Anderson relaxing by riding horses when he's not at Cleveland Indians camp... Speaking (writing) of the Gold Sox, college baseball season is underway, but the Gold Sox have not announced any player signings. Some fans would actually like to follow some of the players that will be in town this summer. The Chico team has tweeted a few names, and Portland has published their 2016 roster online, but the Gold Sox and the other three teams in the new Great West League haven't announced anything... It was a mistake, but still frustrating that the MLB Network, which had tape delayed coverage of the Dodgers-Angels game on Friday, was showing the live score in its bottom-of-the-screen ticker. It's only spring, but you knew what was going to happen in the next hour!.. Still time to see it (I haven't yet). MLBN's preview of the Dodgers is part of it's '30 Clubs in 30 Days' segment tonight... It's hard to say this as a Dodger fan, but watching the Giants-Reds telecast Tuesday night, it's good to hear Mike Krukow—the most entertaining and informative analyst in the game.

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