Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March Madness, Part I, ready for prime time

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 6, 2007 3:00 AM (12 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 16,854 articles
BALTIMORE - Conference play is just a tune-up for the real March Madness that starts next week, but league tournaments are still crucial to Big Dance seeding and to the bubble teams that need help to reach the NCAAs.

In total this week, college basketball fans can see 50-plus games, and starting Wednesday through the weekend, ESPN will feature college hoops 12 hours a day.

The Big East Conference starts its all-day basketball smorgasbord from Madison Square Garden Wednesday at noon, with all games being aired on ESPN and capped off by the prime-time Saturday night conference title game.

Thursday, the ACC takes center stage, tipping off at noon, with CW54 (WNUV) being the home for all the action. The championship game is on Sunday.

In an interseting plot twist Sinclair Broadcasting(parent copmany of FOX 45 & CW54) is in a battle with Comcast over fees they feel the cable company should be paying the Hunt Valley based broadcaster. A March 9th deadline could cause problems for Maryland hoop fans if Friday both FOX 45 and CW54 are pulled off cable. We will keep you posted.

The other major conferences, the PAC 10 starts on Comcast SportsNet on Wednesday, and the Big Ten begins on Thursday on ESPN. Fans of the SEC and Big 12 will be unable to see any early-round games. But fans can see their games online by checking your favorite team's Web site or with SIRIUS satellite radio.

Local lacrosse fans will have a chance to catch today’s Johns Hopkins-UMBC game live at 7 p.m. if you need a break from the hoops-fest on MASN.

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s spring training baseball package this week features the Nationals vs. Astros Thursday at 1 p.m., with Bob Carpenter, Don Sutton and in-game reporter Debbi Taylor. On Friday at 1, we get our first look at the Orioles’ broadcast team. Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer and Amber Theoharis make their debut when MASN carries the Orioles vs. Nationals from Fort Lauderdale.

“I can't wait to get going and the chance to be part of the new Orioles broadcast team,” Thorne told me. “Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez, Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis are all great people, and I think fans will see that we enjoy doing O's baseball. We have some of the best broadcasters in the business working for MASN, so let’s get started already.”

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at jwilliamsexaminer@gmail.com.

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