That’s not the only big change coming to NCAA tournament broadcasts. There’ll be a live audience for the selection show (which could get lively when certain teams are snubbed), a “Fast Break” streaming option similar to the NFL’s RedZone and, for the first time in forever, no Verne Lundquist.
For the first time in 36 years, the Selection Sunday show during which the 68 teams and the NCAA men’s basketball bracket are revealed will be on TBS, a move to cable that is part of a rights deal with CBS and Turner that allows whichever network that carries the Final Four and championship game to choose to carry the selection show. (Two years ago, Turner chose not to carry it. And in 2019, it will return to CBS and everyone can freak out about why it isn’t on Turner.)
The show will run for a goat-gagging two hours, but the NCAA says the plan is to reveal all 68 teams, followed by the brackets — all of which, according to SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, will come in the first half of the show. It might be weird not to see teams anxiously awaiting and then celebrating the reveal, but this show seems as if it will be geared more toward the bracketeers, an impatient lot. You will recall that CBS speeded things up last year after the Great Leaked Bracket Fiasco of 2016 caused ratings to plummet when the network was scooped while trying to drag out the reveal.
Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson will handle the main duties as the show goes back to two hours, with Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis supplying analysis and Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith doing their usual 15 seconds of preparation so that they can hilariously break down the college game.
Over on the Internet, the NCAA’s March Madness Live will stream the selection show and, more interestingly, a “Fast Break” stream that, like the NFL’s RedZone coverage, whips to whatever exciting action is going on at any moment.
And Lundquist will be calling none of that action, darn it. Brad Nessler, who replaced Lundquist on CBS’s lead college football games last fall, will replace him and Ian Eagle will take over the regional final Lundquist previously worked. Lundquist, a fixture on tournament games for CBS since 1998, is 77 and underwent back surgery last fall. He plans to be in the tower at the 16th hole of CBS’s Masters coverage next month, according to the New York Post.
Here’s the lineup of announcers:
Play-by-Play / Analyst / Reporter
* Regional Weekend Announcing Teams
Jim Nantz / Bill Raftery / Grant Hill // Tracy Wolfson*
Brian Anderson / Chris Webber // Lisa Byington*
Ian Eagle / Jim Spanarkel // Allie LaForce*
Kevin Harlan / Reggie Miller / Dan Bonner // Dana Jacobson*
Brad Nessler / Steve Lavin // Evan Washburn
Spero Dedes / Steve Smith / Len Elmore // Ros Gold-Onwude
Andrew Catalon / Steve Lappas // Jamie Erdahl
Carter Blackburn / Debbie Antonelli // John Schriffen
TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, along with NCAA March Madness Live, will carry the games and Nantz, Raftery and Hill will continue to announce the Final Four and championship games on TBS on March 31 and April 2.
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