Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekday College Basketball Viewers' Guide - 2/24/14 to 2/28/14

Seed projections are courtesy of KPISports.  Please note that these numbers are very fluid and are as of games currently played.

Full Schedule

Oklahoma (6) at Kansas (1) (9pm, ESPN) - Kansas could win a share of the Big 12 and the #1 seed if they sweep the Oklahoma schools this week.  The meeting in Norman was a bit of a track meet with the Jayhawks winning 90-83 & shooting nearly 55% from the field.

Xavier (NIT 3) at St. John's (NIT 2) (7pm, FOX Sports 1) - Not sure if anyone wants to step up and become the favorite to be the Big East's third team in the NCAA field.  St. John's road is theoretically easier than the Musketeers after this game, but XU has home games vs. both Creighton and Villanova where they could steal some headlines.

Keep an eye on: Wichita St. (2) at Bradley (OUT) - You know why.

California (9) at Arizona (1) (9pm, ESPN2) - Tie this game and the Oregon at UCLA's result together.  A Wildcats win and a UCLA loss would clinch the #1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament for Arizona.   Cal is no slouch and handed Arizona their first loss at Haas Pavilion.  The Wildcats must shoot better (32% including 2-11 from three).

Interesting side note: The 60-58 final from that game was the lowest point that both schools have scored in Pac-12 play.

Baylor (10) at Texas (6) (9pm, ESPNU) - The Bears, by winning their last four Big 12 games, have charged back to 6-8 in league play and have a realistic chance of finishing at .500 in conference.  The remaining schedule is not easy with a home game vs. Iowa St. and, including this game, road trips to Austin and Manhattan, KS.  They live and die by the three ball, particularly Brady Heslip.

Stanford (8) at Arizona St. (11) (11pm, ESPNU) - Can't figure either of these two out, particularly the Sun Devils.  Since upsetting Arizona in 2OT (albeit some controversial circumstances), they've outright disappeared in road losses to Colorado and Utah.  Both can stand up and challenge, along with Colorado and Cal, for the Pac-12 tournament's three and four seeds and skip an extra game in Las Vegas.

Stony Brook (OUT) at Vermont (15) (7pm, ESPN3) - Vermont can clinch the top seed in the conference tournament if it beats SBU.  So important in the America East, not only for the guaranteed postseason opportunity of the NIT if you slip up, but if you make it out of the quarterfinals & semifinals in Albany, you get to host the championship game on your home court.

New Mexico St. (13) at Utah Valley (OUT) (9pm, Utah Valley TV) - By virtue of a UVU loss on Saturday, the Aggies now in control of the WAC right now by the tiebreaking edge of a win in Las Cruces over UVU.

Now how do you watch this game if you so desire?  Click here.

UC Santa Barbara (15) at UC Irvine (OUT) (10pm, ESPN3) - Similar to the two WAC schools mentioned above, UCSB has the head to head tiebreaker over UCI at the moment.  If anything, watch this to get a glimpse of Alan Williams from the Gauchos, averaging 22.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.  Astounding numbers and Ken Pomeroy's man crush.

Oregon (10) at UCLA (5) (11pm, ESPN2) -  I reference earlier that UCLA needs a win here to maintain the possibility of getting the #1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.  The Ducks are riding a three game sweep of their Pacific Northwest brothers and could really use a win vs. someone outside the bottom four or five of the conference standings.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Men's Basketball Weekend Viewer's Guide - 2/22/14 & 2/23/14

KPI seeding in use again.  All game times are Eastern time.

Entire schedule

Louisville (8) at Cincinnati (5) (12pm, CBS/ - It is interesting to compare & contrast the KPI again Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm.  There is one glaring item with both schools' that knock down their seed as of today: Both have non-conference strength of schedules below 300.  The beauty of the American in 2013-14 is the round-robin nature of the schedule, so everyone's conference strength of schedule should "normalize" itself in that area.  That said, Cincy is one game in the loss column on the Cardinals.  A win gives the Bearcats a sweep over them and a two game lead over the team closest to them in the conference standings. is noted above because this Saturday's 12pm window is a split regional window.  The only one CBS scheduled this year with Florida-Ole Miss as the other game.  The good news is that both games should be available online.

Wisconsin (1) at Iowa (6) (12pm, ESPN2) - The Badgers have been able to get a lot of mileage out of their non-conference scheduling with wins over neutral site wins over Saint Louis & a surging St. John's, a home win vs. Florida and a road win at Virginia.  Also had wins vs. West Virginia (neutral) and Marquette (home).  Coupled with recent wins the two Michigan schools, going for the sweep vs. Iowa puts them in a very good place to be seeded, in my opinion, on one of the top two lines.

St. John's (NIT 2) at Villanova (1) (1:30pm, FOX Sports 1) - The Wildcats are not making things easy for themselves.  Providence, looking at every game as a NCAA tournament game from here on out, took VU to 2OT the other night.  St. John's is making a case for the Big East to get a fourth NCAA team, winning nine of their last ten conference games (six in a row) after starting 0-5.  During the ten game span, the Red Storm split with conference-leading Creighton.

UTEP (NIT 5) at Southern Miss (12) (6pm, CBS Sports Network) - When a conference gets to a large size like the ACC or C-USA, each conference games means so much because you don't always get a return game.  In C-USA, your tiebreakers could become a single game, then a standings countdown (how you did vs. 3rd place, 4th place, etc).  Southern Miss needs this in the event of a three team tie alongside UTEP and Middle Tennessee as a loss puts them a two games behind that pairing.  Southern Miss still has an at-large profile, but it is declining. Winning C-USA should be the priority.

Ohio (NIT 2) at Akron (NIT 7) (6pm, TWSports/ESPN3/MAC DN) - Buffalo is also in the three team race with these two schools to win the MAC East and secure bye through to the MAC semifinals.  The Zips defeated the Bobcats in 2OT earlier this year.

Syracuse (2) at Duke (5) (7pm, ESPN) - Syracuse a two seed because of one extremely bad loss?  Maybe we'll find out more about the Orange is this three game road swing to Durham, College Park and Charlottesville.  Don't sleep on the season ending trip to Tallahassee either.

Don't have a lot to say about this one.  UNC's upset of Duke, along with Syracuse's loss to Boston College, has taken some of the shine off this game, but the first one was amazing.  Use that as the springboard for this one.

Texas (6) at Kansas (1) (7:30pm, ESPNU) - More of a TV placement comment, but it is interesting that this game became an ESPNU telecast as Texas didn't have great expectations coming into the year, but has already beaten the Jayhawks once and it wasn't really that close.  On the other hand, a Kansas win puts them up three games on Texas with four games to play for both the Longhorn and KU.

George Washington (7) at Saint Louis (3) (8pm, FSMidwest/CSN MA+/SNY) - SLU has received a tremendous amount of good publicity this week by cracking the top ten in both major polls, something their late coach Rick Majerus said they would be.  GW earned a really solid win at Richmond on Tuesday.  The A-10 has really been strong this year.

Note: This game will be available through the Atlantic 10's Campus Insiders portal free of charge.

San Diego St. (6) at New Mexico (5) (10pm, ESPN2) - I don't agree that San Diego St. is a six seed at the moment and do not believe New Mexico would be seeded ahead of them if the tournament started today, but what drags the Aztecs down compared to other seeding projections which may factor the RPI? San Diego St.'s two wins vs. Division II school are factored into the KPI.  The RPI only counts games played vs. Division I competition.

These two schools face each other twice in fifteen days, so both of them will benefit from playing each other.  A win for the Aztecs might make the return game at Viejas less meaningful.   An upset by Lobos ties both at the top of the conference standings and puts The Show, SDSU's student section, on alert.

Keep an eye out on: Kansas St. (10) at Oklahoma (7) (4pm, Big 12 Network/ESPN3) & Arizona (1) at Colorado (9) (9pm, ESPN)

Michigan St. (3) at Michigan (4) (12pm, CBS) - Virtually even. Have been hearing a lot about Michigan St.'s injuries being a factor.  Fact is, the Spartans have alternated wins and losses over their last eight games, a string that started...with a loss at home to Michigan.

SMU (NIT 1) at Connecticut (7) (2pm, CBS Sports Network) - SMU needs to prove they can win away from Moody Coliseum.  They'll have two more chances with this game and their regular season finale at Memphis.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SEC Network & DirecTV CSRs, American Athletic football on CBSSN and a way to see a few more Pac-12 MBK tournament games

* Clay Travis tweeted that DirecTV had told a customer asking about their SEC Network plans that they had no plans the network.  The tweet got a lot of publicity and Clay's site has the contents of the email in full if you'd like to read.

If you look in the response, DirecTV's service account responds and informs Clay that an incorrect response was sent out.

Now here's why it isn't that big of a deal just yet.

Its a form email.  I worked as a phone & email customer service representative in college for a company who bought the customer support rights to various products from large corporations.   There are four items we were often graded on:

1) When the on the phones, first call resolution and the time it took to resolve the issue
2) When on email duty, first email resolution and how many emails you could go through in an hour

And when it came to email resolution, the easiest way to churn through your email "quota" was to have email templates in place for common questions.  Reading over the email that Clay posted, I feel fairly comfortable that there's a spot where "SEC Network" was placed that looked more like (insert network here) or _______ to the person who sent that email out.

I do not want to diminish the role of the CSR for DirecTV, but if you are taking their word as gospel on a programming decision, you need to reflect and consider the source, especially if you believe every single one of them has heard of the forthcoming network.  I have dealt with DirecTV's CSRs before.  Some are very knowledgeable on the subject you are discussing with them.  Some are not and relying on prepared documentation on software, hardware and programming.  But they are not the PR department and PR isn't looking over every support email sent out.

Does this mean that the email was 100% wrong? No.  It is possible that DirecTV will not have the network at launch.  If it is something you absolutely need, request it.

* With CBS Sports Network sublicensing 13-15 American Athletic Conference football games from ESPN, the conference is generally out of the picture when it comes to establishing any sort of selection order for the networks.  My guess is that CBSSN will have the opportunity to choose roughly a game per week after two selection "groups".  Group A would be ABC & the three ESPN channels that primarily carry live sports: ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU as those four networks must carry a total of 28 games from the conference.  Group B would be ESPNEWS, which doesn't have a set count of games, but along with the Group A networks and CBS Sports Network, they have to carry around 90% of the conference's games on TV.  I would expect CBS Sports Network to choose after ESPNEWS as it has about close to 20 million less subscribing homes.  Anything left would then go to ESPN3.

* Last week I wrote about quirks in the Big 12 contract with ESPN for men's basketball, where intraconference games can slip through the national TV deal and be left up to individual schools to allow for the away Big 12 team to either simulcast or produce their own telecast.

That is the structure that was agreed to by the conference, and by association, the schools.  The unintended consequence revolves around ESPN's ownership of Longhorn Network.  In choosing around 105 games, both from conference and non-conference play, conference games involving Texas can be set aside by ESPN for LHN.  And since they are Texas's home games, falling under the school's institutional package, they have the ability to approve or deny the road team's request for a local television production.

Seven Big 12 intraconference games fell to institutional packages with four of them being Texas home games.  I can respect ESPN's desire to stock LHN with quality content throughout the athletic year, but I do believe a check needs to be put in place.  Maybe a limit on the number of intraconference home games per team that can be set aside for those local packages, along with:

a) Automatic approval of a road team production provided the telecast is not available via a regional sports network or webcast.  Has to be TV only


b) The road team requests for the Longhorn Network production to be carried to the road team's markets, provided that the Longhorn Network is not available on cable television systems in that market

* This last item is more of a "what if" scenario.  Bear with me.

I understand the Pac-12's desire to place most of their men's basketball tournament on Pac-12 Networks, but I think they could give both of their national partners' networks a little more than the three tournament games they currently place on them.

If you start the tournament's first round and quarterfinal days at 11am PT /  2pm ET and leave the evening sessions at their current times, you could conceivably fit three more games on both ESPN and FOX.  The 2nd game each day should start around 1:30pm PT / 4:30pm ET, where the afternoon sessions of east coast based tournaments are ending.  Here's what it would have looked like on FOX Sports 1 this year:

2pm & 4:30pm: Pac-12 afternoon first round
7pm & 9:30pm: Big East first round

12pm & 2:30pm: Big East afternoon quarterfinals
4:30pm: Pac-12 quarterfinal #2
7pm & 9:30pm: Big East evening quarterfinals
11:30pm: Pac-12 Quarterfinal #4

Here's what it would look like on ESPNU

Wednesday (ESPNU)
2pm: Pac-12 First Round
4:30pm: Pac-12 First Round
7pm: American First Round

Thursday might be a mix of ESPN & ESPNU depending on the start times.  Using 11am PT as the start for the Pac-12 quarterfinals, the 2nd quarterfinal could be slotted on ESPN between ACC 2nd round sessions with the evening quarterfinal on either ESPN or ESPNU.

Where it doesn't fly as well on ESPN is that you eliminate the 6pm SportsCenter, though there would be 1.5 hours to catch up on ESPN2 between the end of the Big 12 afternoon session and the start of the Big Ten evening session.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Men's Basketball Weeknight Viewers Guide: 2/17 - 2/21

NCAA projected seeds next to the school are from as of Friday, so it does not include this weekend's results.

EDIT: KPI adjusted for games played through 2/16


Delaware (14) at Towson (OUT) (7pm, NBCSN) - Top two schools in the CAA standings for a conference that is likely to be only sending its tournament champion.  A win by Delaware will clinch a share of the CAA title for the Blue Hens and assure them of the #1 seed in the conference tournament

Kentucky (5) at Ole Miss (NIT 3) (7pm, ESPN) - Ole Miss gets the SEC gauntlet of Kentucky and Florida back-to-back, but both games are in Oxford, where they have won their five SEC home games.  If the Rebels can get a split, that would be a big boost to their NCAA chances.

Texas (5) at Iowa St. (5) (7pm, ESPN2) - The Longhorns are quite hot in Big 12 play, winning nine of their last ten in Big 12 play after opening with two losses.  After this one for the Cyclones, only Kansas St. appears to be a likely NCAA tournament team.

Villanova (2) at Providence (NIT 3) (7pm, FOX Sports 1) - 7pm on Tuesday is a popular spot.  I expect when the numbers are run for this weekend's games at KPISports, you won't find Villanova as a two seed after being trucked by Creighton twice.  Providence, Xavier, St. John's, Marquette - someone needs to step up from this group or Big East #3 will be more likely to find their bubble burst on March 16th.

Worth paying attention to: George Washington (9) at Richmond (12) (7pm, NBCSN).  See Friday.

UCLA (4) at California (9) (10pm, Pac-12 Networks) - I don't know if we hear enough about the Pac-12.  Its a deep conference, but it certainly has its flaws now with Arizona and Colorado suffering key injuries.  UCLA is in a great position to grab some headlines and maybe steal the regular season title if Arizona falters a few more times down the stretch.  Cal's schedule strength should increase of the rest of the conference schedule facing key teams in Arizona, Arizona St. and Colorado.  Get those wins along with this one and they might be looking up a seed in the upper half of the bracket.

Arizona St. (8) at Colorado (10) (11pm, ESPNU) - Colorado is treading water, while the Sun Devils are trending up.  After Colorado, ASU should be favored to win four of their final five with a home game vs. California as their last regular season chance at beefing up their resume

Duke (4) at North Carolina (7) (9pm, ESPN/ACC Network) - Its a big deal & people watch.  UNC is surging ahead, but is still fighting it out with Pitt for the important #4 seed in the ACC.   Catching a team after its first or second game in Greensboro is worth clawing for.

Gonzaga (7) at BYU (12) (11pm, ESPN2) - BYU used a great second half to win at St. Mary's and put themselves in the drivers' seat for the 2nd seed in the WCC tournament by sweeping the Gaels.  Like Villanova, I suspect BYU now finds itself "in" the tournament at the moment, but needs to assert itself at home vs. the Bulldogs.  It wasn't that close in Spokane (84-69 loss) and this is the last big regular season game for the Cougars until the conference as they should be favored against Portland and San Diego.

Mercer (14) at Florida Gulf Coast (OUT) (6pm, ESPNU) - Top two of the Atlantic Sun.  If Mercer wins, they need one win in their last three to outright clinch the A-Sun's regular season title and, at a minimum, a postseason opportunity in the NIT.

VCU (6) at Massachusetts (4) (7pm, ESPN2) - The Rams gave Saint Louis all sorts of fits, many of them self-induced, before losing at Chafeitz to the Billikens.  On the other side, UMass got a win it absolutely needed at George Washington.  There's a real battle going on between five teams separated by one loss (VCU, UMass, Richmond, GW & St. Joe's) for the second seed in the A-10 tournament and each school will face another one from this grouping at least once.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thoughts on exclusive TV windows, more on MLB on FS1 and '14 CFB scheduling

* Jon Wilner wrote about Pac-12 requesting some relief for the conference from the number of evening Pacific time games that ended up on the Pac-12 Network, specifically due to the exclusivity of the east coast primetime window that ESPN and FOX share.

In my opinion, it is a reasonable request.  Consider these items:
  • CBS relaxed its window exclusivity for the SEC so the forthcoming SEC Network could show a game at the same time.  CBS retains exclusivity against ESPN in their telecast window.
  • After adding Nebraska in 2011, the Big Ten and ESPN agreed to drop complete exclusivity around ABC's telecast windows (they used to make some exceptions around the Saturday with Ohio St.-Michigan).  The relief was provided to allow for less concurrent games on BTN.  Central time zone schools a new kickoff time option instead of pre-noon or nighttime.
  • When the Big 12 renegotiated its television contracts, specifically the finalized deals from 2012, it stripped ABC of its exclusive windows.  A game on FOX can be played concurrently on ESPN and games on FOX's cable outlets can start at the same time as one on ABC.  The only trend I've noticed, and it seems to be true with the Pac-12 as well, is that ABC and FOX try really hard not to air games at the same time.
I think this is absolutely doable for the Pac-12.  What could it cost?  Probably nothing monetarily, but maybe ABC and FOX get another "priority" game selection before the season or the Pac-12 Network loses its ability to select ahead of ABC and FOX a couple times a year.  

* A FOX affiliate has posted the proposed schedule of telecast windows that the broadcast network will be carrying MLB this season (times on the schedule are Central time).  Assuming two MLB windows total per Saturday on FOX and FS1, I would assume it means that FS1 will have two windows on 8/30 and one window each Saturday in September.  

I'm starting to warm up to the idea that FS2 will have some early season games on Saturdays, otherwise they might have to triple up on MLB game windows during other parts of the year to keep FS1 strictly open for college football, excluding the occasional UFC and auto racing commitments.  Many FOX RSNs clear the ACC RSN package from Raycom and still have local MLB games to carry.

Remember that FOX's minimum for carrying Big 12 games on a national cable network, which may or may not have some level of subscribing homes attached to it, is low.  Just six games.  The Pac-12 threshold is much higher.  C-USA's might be higher than the Big 12's, but C-USA's number can be filled on many Thursday nights.

FOX Sports 2 might be getting some additional content in 2015 with Major League Soccer coming aboard, though no official announcement has been made.  Early season college football wouldn't be a bad addition either.

* Looked over the conference opponents list that the American released this week.  I mentioned in my early guesses for week one that Sunday could be a place for an American conference game involving some combo of Cincinnati, Tulane and Tulsa.  Tulane at Tulsa seems to be the option.  Cincinnati does not face Tulsa and Tulane hosts Cincinnati, but Tulane did ask the American schedule makers to start on the road so that Yulman Stadium would be ready.  And maybe that becomes a Friday night game in Tulsa with UTSA-Houston on Sunday.  As a Houston fan reminded me recently, UH may not open on Saturday due to the LSU-Wisconsin game at Reliant Stadium.  Last year UH opened vs. Southern on Friday due to the Oklahoma St.-Missouri St. game at Reliant the next day, but it should be noted that Houston played multiple home games at Reliant and Reliant was not going to double host.

I'll probably take one more crack at all the early season weeks once the four remaining conferences release their schedules.  Those are the American, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt.  I believe the Sun Belt is required to have their schedule finalized by March 1st.  BYU has not yet finalized its schedule either.  While they do have twelve opponents in place, they could be working to place additional games on Thursdays or Fridays.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weekend Viewers Guide: 2/15 - 2/16

I'm going to put down the projected seed that has computed.  These are as of games played on 2/13.


All times Eastern

Memphis (10) at Connecticut (8) (12pm, ESPN) - One of two games where ranked teams are facing each other.  The American started the week with five teams in the AP top 25.  Might not have that many at the end of the week.  UConn won the first game between these two where DeAndre Daniels had 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Pittsburgh (7) at North Carolina (8) (1pm, CBS) - Such a heartbreaker on Wednesday night for Pitt while North Carolina received a unintended break with the Duke game postponed due to weather.  Pitt cannot afford to let Wednesday night linger.  The Tar Heels have won their last five conference games, but a NC State team who is decidedly on the bubble is the best win of those five.

VCU (6) at Saint Louis (4) (2pm, ESPN) - These two will meet twice in the next fourteen days.  Saint Louis could put themselves up three games in the loss column over VCU and whomever joins them at three losses in conference.  VCU arguably might be the more battle tested of the two even though they ended up on the wrong side of the bracket in Puerto Rico earlier this year, where SLU lost both games they faced vs. ranked opponents (Wisconsin in Cancun and at home vs. Wichita St.).  Best win for SLU right now is vs. St. Joseph's, so SLU needs to continue building themselves through the A-10 season.

Massachusetts (6) at George Washington (8) (2pm, CSN Mid Atlantic/SNY) - Unfortunately, most of the nation won't be seeing this one due to the regional nature of distribution and it is not available through the A-10's Campus Insiders streaming package.   UMass might be starting to hit a wall in conference play losing four of their last seven.  It might get tougher to hang their hat on their non-conference resume if they hang around .500 in the A-10.

Southern Miss (10) at Middle Tennessee (OUT) (2pm, CSS) - C-USA has a four way tie at the top with these two in the mix, but Middle Tennessee might be the one that is the furthest away from an at-large in the NIT, let alone the NCAA tournament.  The Golden Eagles really don't have many ways left to improve their resume in a conference that looks to be sending only the automatic, so they are in postseason mode right now.

Green Bay (13) at Cleveland St. (NIT 8) (4pm, STO/CSN Chicago/ESPN3) - The Horizon League standings have tightened up and only one school is likely going to the NCAA from here as well.    Remember that the regular season champion gets to host the semifinal round of the conference tournament and if they win, they host the final.

Kansas St. (9) at Baylor (NIT 1) (7pm, ESPNU) - This might be Baylor's last stand.  The season started with a lot of promise but they, like Oregon in the Pac-12, have bottomed out in conference play.  Kansas St. got a huge win on Monday night vs. Kansas and now its time to start improving their seed.

BYU (NIT 1) at St. Mary's (12) (8pm, ESPN2) - Based on the result tonight, you might be end up flipping the seed numbers of these two.  The WCC is typically two bids, so either St. Mary's can give themselves some breathing room or BYU can overtake and prep for next Thursday's game vs. Gonzaga.

Florida (2) at Kentucky (4) (9pm, ESPN) - The top of the SEC.  Top game of the game.  Should be a lot of fun.

Pay attention to: Xavier at Marquette (4pm, FOX)

Wisconsin (1) at Michigan (3) (1pm, CBS) - It is hard to look at a team at 7-5 in conference as a 1 seed, but they are the last one seed based on the KPI and Michigan is the top 3 seed.  Neither team has a lot of meat left on their schedule after next week, so both schools have to view this as a way to pad their resumes and stay above the pack in the Big Ten standings.

Villanova (2) at Creighton (3) (5pm, FOX Sports 1) - Just as good as Wisconsin-Michigan and Florida-Kentucky.  Creighton obliterated the Wildcats a few weeks ago and if you are Villanova, you have to make sure that Ethan Wragge doesn't become a trending topic on Twitter again.  Doug McDermott will get his.  He always does and always will.    I expect this to be much closer than it was.  Can't see Creighton shooting 60% from three and 57% from the field again.

Pay attention to: Georgetown at St. John's (7pm, FOX Sports 1)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Regarding the West Virginia-Texas Men's Basketball Game on 2/22

On Saturday night, West Virginia visits Texas and the game will be on the Longhorn Network.  And that's where the problems start.  The network is quasi-regional and if you've at a map lately, West Virginia is nowhere near Texas.  So while three other Big 12 intraconference men's basketball games involving Texas have aired on LHN, those three schools either reside in Texas (TCU, Texas Tech) or a state bordering Texas (Oklahoma) that made a deal to carry the network.

I saw this on's message board and Charleston Daily Mail writer Mike Casazza tweeted this item last night.

First item that I found somewhat notable is IMG.  IMG manages WVU's multimedia & sponsorship rights and they manage Texas's rights too.   They were part of the negotiations that created the Longhorn Network.  I believe they ceded operational control of the television rights to ESPN.

ESPN has the rights to 100-105 Big 12 games. I can't definitely say that Longhorn Network games are part of that count in men's basketball, where any game played on LHN after Texas's institutional telecast does count towards ESPN's football game count.  Here's what counts:

  • National games on ESPN or ESPN2
    • Games sublicensed to CBS or any other over-the-air network fall under this count
  • Up to 40 games on ESPNU
  • Regional games branded as the Big 12 Network
I count 44 "national" games, 39 Big 12 Network games, 24 games on ESPNU and one game on ESPNEWS, which puts ESPN's count at 108.  This includes the conference tournament.  After that, I believe games revert back to each school, specifically the home teams.  Which is why LHN has Saturday night's game.

As I stated earlier, West Virginia is nowhere near Texas and the other schools Texas faced as Big 12 opponents this year.  However, this is not new.  They've hosted Iowa St. and Kansas St. on the network, though it looks like Cox Cable in Kansas may had access to LHN based on when they signed their deal to carry the network.  

I don't know if ESPN has ever negotiated with a cable company to place the network in West Virginia.  IMG's partner for West Virginia is West Virginia Media Holdings, who in turn granted a lot of their live game content over to ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.  My assumption is that WVU was considering renting production equipment in Maybe there is a concern about the game being shown on systems like DirecTV or Dish Network where LHN is not being carried at this time.  

A compromise could be to carry the game on local over-the-air affiliates with the LHN production, like they did with the Ole Miss football game this year.  I'd like to see a compromise be made.   Maybe this is something the Big 12 needs to revisit at their spring meetings.

Consider this though: WVU's game vs. TCU on ROOT Sports later this year is not airing on FOX Sports Southwest.  I wonder why.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weeknight men's basketball viewers guide: 2/10 - 2/14

Full schedule

Kansas at Kansas St. (9pm, ESPN) - This one has been fun to watch for the past few years, and Kansas's freshman duo of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins are really a treat when they are on target.  The Wildcats' resume is solid enough to get them into the NCAA tournament right now and they've won games over a pair of teams above them in the Big 12 standings (Texas & Oklahoma) plus a pair of teams in George Washington and Gonzaga that should be in regardless of their conference tournament.

Oklahoma St. at Texas (7pm, ESPN2) - Its time for Oklahoma St. to control its own destiny.  This will be the first of three games that they won't have Marcus Smart.  4-6 in Big 12 play with losses in five of the last six.  Can they rise up?

Syracuse at Pittsburgh (7pm, ESPN) - These two met three week ago and it went down to the final possession.  I don't expect it to be any different.  Each ACC school they face will put even more emphasis on the Orange, and Pitt knows them the best.  Syracuse's last win at the Petersen Events Center: 2004.  They are 0-5 since then.

George Washington at VCU (7pm, NBCSN) - What, no Olympics on NBCSN? ;)  Saint Louis, at the moment, is in a class of its own in the A-10, but both of these schools have tournament resumes.  George Washington owns one win over VCU at home, and a successful return trip to Richmond would be another bankable win for them.

Toledo at Ohio (7pm, Time Warner Sports/Full Court/ESPN3) - Toledo has the tournament resume of an at-large team at the moment, but Ohio isn't far behind.  Ohio's best win is a road win vs. Richmond.  The Bobcats also need to keep pace with Akron as the MAC continues to reward the division winners with conference tournament byes into the semifinal round.

Duke at North Carolina (9pm, ESPN/ACC Network) - You'll watch because it is one of the best rivalries in college sports.  Duke really can't afford another ACC loss and they might end up playing in the 2nd round of the tournament instead of having a bye through to the quarterfinals.

Reminder to fans in most ACC markets, particularly for fans in parts of New York and Pennsylvania: You do have two options to watch the game on television.  ESPN will provide the national coverage and Raycom's ACC Network also produces a telecast.  You are not blacked out of the ESPN telecast even if you are receiving the ACC Network telecast.  The two productions coexist with each other.

Thursday & Friday
Choose your own adventure.  There are plenty of games, but I couldn't find one that stuck out to me at the moment.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend College Basketball Viewer's Guide: 2/7/14 - 2/9/14

For the next three to four weeks, I'll do the viewers guides in two batches each week.  One will be for the weekday games and another batch for the weekend.  Since schools usually play one weeknight game then a weekend game, the guide can be more relevant by the time the weekend comes around.

Michigan at Iowa (ESPN, 2pm ET) - There is a three game divide between the two Michigan schools at the top of the Big Ten and third place Iowa.  The Hawkeyes have been uneven as of late and the loss to Ohio St. brought them closer to the logjam at the middle of the conference standings instead of providing some separation.  The Hawkeyes need the game a lot more to continue to build on their resume.

Providence at Xavier (FOX Sports 1, 3pm ET) - At this stage, its a bit of an elimination game for the Big East, which as of right now may only get three teams into the 68.  Both looked better coming into the week before both schools lost by double digits during the week.  Only Villanova and Creighton look to be safe.

UNF at Florida Gulf Coast (ESPN3, 7pm ET) - The importance of this game in the A-Sun is different for each school.  UNF is trying to remain separated from what is currently a three school grouping one game behind them in the A-Sun standing, which if tiebreakers fell the wrong way, could mean the difference between hosting a quarterfinal game at home in the conference tournament or traveling for one.  

Florida Gulf Coast is just trying to keep pace with Mercer as both schools are tied at the top standings and meet each other two Fridays from today.  The importance of finishing first in the regular season means even more in the A-Sun because of the postseason guarantee provided by the NIT in the event the top seed loses in the conference tournament.

Cincinnati at SMU (ESPNU, 7:30pm ET) - The Bearcats are running away with the American regular season title at the moment, but SMU is on the bubble and a signature win vs. a top ten ranked school can only help their cause.  SMU is undefeated in home games this year though and Moody Coliseum is starting to sell out.

Gonzaga at Memphis (ESPN, 9pm ET) - It is the only other game on Saturday pitting two ranked teams, though only Gonzaga is at the top of their conference.  The national reputation of the Zags took a bit of a hit with their NCAA tournament meltdown this year and Memphis looks to be a NCAA tournament team, but the Tigers best wins, in conference (Louisville) and out of conference (Oklahoma St.), are losing a little bit of luster.  Both sides need this as a resume boost.

San Francisco at BYU (BYUtv, 9pm ET) - Both are tied for 2nd in the WCC standings and BYU won the earlier meeting at Gersten, so it helps the Cougars get an outright advantage at the end of the year in the event both finish tied in the standings.  Where a loss hurts is it could drop either school into the mix for seeds 3-5 and its starting to matter when it comes to positioning & seeding for the conference tournament.  The 4 & 5 seeds would then likely get Gonzaga in the semifinals instead of the finals.

Michigan St. at Wisconsin (CBS, 1pm ET) - Wisconsin is in a bit of a funk, losing five of their last seven.  Including this game, three of their next four are against ranked teams with the last two on the road vs. Michigan and Iowa.  So this is kind of a big deal for them, at least from a NCAA seeding perspective.

Washington at Colorado (ESPNU, 8pm ET) - Colorado needs this one in the worst way.   Since losing Spencer Dinwiddle vs. Washington just under a month ago, CU's has been 3-4 including that game with the closest loss by 12 points.  Getting a split vs. Washington isn't likely to help out any computer metrics very much, but avenging the loss without Dinwiddle might help them in the "eye test".

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Way too early Week 1 CFB TV guesses

Key items from other programming that were considered based on when these events aired in 2013 and their scheduling for 2014:

All times listed are Eastern
  • In 2013, US Open tennis aired in the evening on ESPN2 on the Thursday & Friday before Labor Day.  I'm expecting that to continue in 2014.  That could change in 2015 as the schedule may return to a weekend final along with ESPN becoming the exclusive rightsholder to the event.
  • CBS and CBS Sports Network carried US Open tennis over both weekend days from 11am-6pm.  Also expecting that to remain in place for 2014.  
  • Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta aired on FS1 on delay on Friday evening on 8/30.  FS1 aired North Dakota St.-Kansas St. immediately following.  With the new qualifying format for races, there may be room to carry a game.
  • ESPN2 is currently scheduled to carry the Atlanta Nationwide race at 7pm on Saturday 8/30/14.
  • FS1 is scheduled to carry the Truck Series race from Ontario at 1pm on Sunday 8/31/14.
  • ESPN is scheduled to carry the Sprint Cup race from Atlanta on 7pm on Sunday 8/31/14.  FS1 may carry their prerace show that day as well.
  • ESPN2 is likely to carry a Sunday night MLB game on 8/31/14.
  • FOX and/or FS1 is likely to have an MLB commitment on 8/30/14.  Either one could have a UFC commitment too.  Where and when should be known over the next 6-8 weeks for MLB but for UCF it might not be know until later in the spring.
    • For purposes of this post, I'm assuming FOX will carry one MLB game window at 1pm and FS1 will carry one as well at around 4:15pm.  For the moment, I assume that there will not be any UFC fights on FS1 or FOX.
There are a few schools still looking for games and five conferences out there who have yet to finalize their schedules, so there might be a few conferences that will schedule games between members during the opening week.

6pm SEC Network: Texas A&M at South Carolina
7pm ESPNU: BYU at Connecticut
7:30pm ESPN: Ole Miss vs. Boise St.
7:30pm CBSSN: Bowling Green at Western Kentucky
8pm BTN: Eastern Illinois at Minnesota
9pm FS1: Rutgers vs. Washington St.
9:15pm SEC Network: Temple at Vanderbilt
9:30pm Pac-12: Weber St. at Arizona St.
9:30pm Pac-12: Idaho St. at Utah

Right now, I expect any other games listed for Thursday to air on ESPN3 or a conference-based streaming service.

I think there's a chance another Big Ten game moves to Thursday to clear a small backlog of games.  I believe the SEC Network will be a true doubleheader instead of the games airing concurrently.

8pm ESPN: UTSA at Houston

8:30am ESPN2: Penn St. vs. UCF (confirmed)
12pm ESPN: Arkansas at Auburn
12pm ESPN2: Appalachian St. at Michigan
12pm FS1: SMU at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: FAU at Nebraska
12pm BTN: Youngstown St. at Illinois
12pm BTN: Northern Iowa at Iowa
12pm SEC Network: UT-Martin at Kentucky
3pm Pac-12: Portland St. at Oregon St.
3pm Pac-12: UC Davis at Stanford
3:30pm NBC: Rice at Notre Dame
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: UCLA at Virginia
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: LSU vs. Wisconsin
3:30pm ESPNU: California at Northwestern
3:30pm FSN: Samford at TCU (Big 12 3rd tier)
3:30pm BTN: Indiana St. at Indiana
3:30pm BTN: Jacksonville St. at Michigan St.
3:30pm SEC Network: Utah St. at Tennessee
4pm ESPN: Clemson at Georgia
6:30pm Pac-12: Colorado St. vs. Colorado
7pm CBSSN: Ohio St. vs. Navy
7pm ESPNU: Southern Miss at Mississippi St.
7pm FSN: Central Arkansas at Texas Tech (Big 12 3rd tier)
7pm SEC/FSN: South Dakota St. at Missouri
7pm SEC Network: Idaho at Florida
7pm PPV: Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma (Big 12 3rd tier)
7pm FCS: Troy at UAB
8pm ABC: Oklahoma St. vs. Florida St.
8pm ESPN: West Virginia vs. Alabama
8pm BTN: James Madison at Maryland
8pm BTN: Western Michigan at Purdue
8pm CyclonesTV: North Dakota St. at Iowa St. (Big 12 3rd tier)
8pm Longhorn: North Texas at Texas (Big 12 3rd tier)
9pm FS1: UNLV at Arizona
10pm Pac-12: South Dakota at Oregon
10:30pm ESPN2: Fresno St. at USC
10:30pm CBSSN: Washington at Hawai'i

I've marked what I believe are the Big 12 3rd tier games.

To my knowledge, FSN still retains a regional eight game package of SEC games and I think they'll be at the end of the line in SEC selections, after the decisions of the SEC Network's content board.  I believe that Oklahoma St.-Florida St. is the premier game of the day and is the leader for the 8pm ABC window.

It is possible one of the Pac-12 games could move to Friday if needed for TV.  Probably one of the games vs. a FCS opponent.

Ohio St. vs. Navy could air on CBS in the evening, but I think that stays on CBSSN.  Notre Dame's game vs. Air Force stayed on CBSSN last year too.  With ABC having the top game, I don't think they would try competing with it on CBS.

I gave FS1 a little leeway to get UNLV-Arizona started a little early out on the east coast and balance concerns regarding heat.  6pm in Arizona should be ok for a start time.

All other games, including Stephen F. Austin-Kansas St. (Big 12 3rd tier), should air on ESPN3 exclusively or some form of conference/school based streaming package.

3:30pm ESPN: Some combo of Cincy, Tulsa & Tulane

The American schedule is not out yet and I don't know if any of these teams are scheduled to face each other, though four schools have leaked or released them.  Based on the announcement that Tulane moved their game vs. Southeastern Louisiana to 9/13, all three schools have an opening.  Tulsa may balk at playing due to facing Oklahoma on 9/6, which would be less than a full week.  On the other hand, if Tulsa doesn't play this weekend, Oklahoma has the disadvantage in terms of rest.

If Tulane is involved, it looks like they'll be on the road.  Tulane at Cincy might be the combination they hit on.

8pm ESPN: Miami (FL) at Louisville (confirmed)