Don't split: Loyola, Duke are even


Now it can be told: Loyola is just as big an NCAA tournament draw as Duke.

You could look it up. But I saved you the effort.

Of the top 31 television markets, two are scheduled to receive today's Loyola-Arizona game -- Baltimore and Phoenix. Among the same markets, two also will get the Duke-Texas Southern game -- Charlotte, N.C., and Houston.

The most popular games in the 31 biggest markets today are Illinois-Georgetown, scheduled for 27 cities, and Indiana-Ohio, in Why? I think CBS figures lots of people want to check out those new kids, Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Isiah Thomas of Indiana.

At least, that's what Al McGuire said.

Doing the splits

According to a CBS news release, the network calls its NCAA tournament split screens either a "quad split" or "double box."

Mercifully, the quad is used briefly to show action in four games. Not so mercifully, the double box is used less briefly to split between two games.

During yesterday's Maryland-Saint Louis telecast, CBS went to the double box for a few minutes to add action from Rider-Connecticut and Wake Forest-Charleston. Though any network exposure for the Broncs -- that's Rider, for you nonalumni -- is welcome, CBS' split screen serves only to annoy the viewer.

You can't see either game very well with CBS' split. I complain about this every year, but does CBS ever listen? No. And every year, it seems, I make some kind of joke about needing to get close to the TV to see what's going on and my mother telling me not to sit so close. But I can't think of a joke this year, so do me a favor and look up one of my old ones, OK?

While the screen is split -- you'redone laughing, right? -- CBS gives us commentary from its studio announcers. The network apparently believes we're sitting on our couches and saying to ourselves: "You know, I'm really enjoying the tournament so far, but only two things are missing: We're out of Cheetos, and I wonder what Pat O'Brien and Clark Kellogg have to say about the game?"

Way to go, Coach

Listen closely to some analysts during the NCAA tournament, and you may wonder whether there are any players on the floor. "Good move by Coach Frizzyhead." "Coach Mensa is gambling at this point." "Coach Dramamine is slowing the tempo."


Courtesy of CBS, here are some of McGuire's pet phrases that may pop up during the tournament:

Q-Tip: A white-haired man, such as coaches Bob Knight and Lute Olson.

Mothball head: McGuire's nickname for fellow analyst Billy Packer.

The caboose or Russian roulette: The NCAA tournament.

The pepper and fly droppings: Little things that aren't worth examining, such as criticism by some guy in Baltimore (my example, not Al's).

See the connection?

The lead story on Channel 11's newscast at 6 Sunday night was not a fire or a murder -- it was the NCAA tournament. And, of course, this had nothing to do with the fact that the preceding CBS programming was on the NCAA tournament.

Connecting a newscast's lead to the preceding programming isn't unusual. The maneuver can fool the half-attentive viewer into staying tuned, thinking he's still watching the same show. Or it can keep on board a viewer disinclined to watch the news, because he's interested in the subject on the show before.

Out of Bullets

Mel Proctor, preparing to work play-by-play on every Orioles local telecast, won't call any more Bullets games on Home Team Sports this season. He will be replaced by Kenny Albert (four games) and Johnny Holliday (three). . . . NBC has hired Randy Cross, a former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman formerly with CBS, as an NFL analyst.


So what is the essence of ESPN2? For Jack Edwards, coming over from ESPN to fill in this week on "SportsNight," it's bathroom humor.

After a mention of an athlete's restaurant serving chili, Edwards had a weak joke about making bubbles in the bathtub. Later, he said that an advantage to leading the Iditarod was avoiding the yellow snow. That one wasn't so funny even when Frank Zappa did it.

"SportsNight" has improved greatly by being cut from three to 1 1/2 hours, and it's worth watching when Keith Olbermann and Suzy Kolber are the anchors. Olbermann next month gets back to ESPN. His replacement, Stuart Scott, looks promising, but needs to keep the forced street jargon to a minimum.

And others should realize that aiming for a younger demographic doesn't necessarily mean lower humor.

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