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ISSUE 121 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/11/2008

Inside the Lines: Thank you, commentators

By Matt Tiano
Executive Editor

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finally, it's over. No more Billy Packer. No more flurry of Stephen Curry three-pointers. No more bandwagoners picking Memphis because "they are just so athletic" or North Carolina because Tyler Hansbrough is "just such a tough competitor." No more beer commercials that make Cialis commercials look like something out of a Broadway audition.

Hats off to the media clowns -- to the folks at CBS and ESPN -- for making the tournament such an enjoyable experience. Thank you, Bobby Knight, for picking Pittsburgh to win it all.

Thank you, Hubert Davis, for one day picking Western Kentucky to upset UCLA in the round of 16, the next day saying that "Western Kentucky will give UCLA a tough game, but the Bruins will go to the Final Four" and 24 hours later declaring that "UCLA will have a very tough time with Western Kentucky, and then will lose to Xavier in the Elite 8." Bases seem to be covered. Davis must be one of those guys that fills out 12 brackets and then brags excessively when he picks one improbable upset. I hate those guys. And by the way, Davis was 0-for-3.

Thank you, Andy Katz, for suggesting that Butler didn't deserve a seven seed because of its membership in the Horizon League. In case you didn't know, every Division I coach participates in a conference lottery prior to each season. Butler, unfortunately, got stuck in the Horizon League this year. And heaven forbid -- they played a great non-conference schedule to accommodate.

Thanks Bobby, Hubert and Andy for giving me hope that I might be able to succeed in this field one day. And thanks Dick Vitale for moving your hands so much when you talk I swear you might hit the cameraman.

But we listen to these guys religiously. You listen to them so much that they fill out your bracket (or your 12 brackets). How many times had you seen UCLA play prior to the Elite 8? Hardly at all, I'd imagine. So you turned to Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and the like for so-called expert analysis about a team that plays late (10:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) and a team that is a member of a conference that doesn't contract with ESPN (based out of Bristol, Conn.). Of course, these guys know more than the average fan, but to pretend that they have seen every game of every team is ridiculous -- yet we treat them as such. And to allow them the prestige of filling out your bracket is perhaps a prestige that they don't deserve. Digger is in bed well before 10. I promise.

The media circus surrounding the "Road to the Final Four" is growing at a faster rate than consumers can manage -- and new media only allows for an unlimited amount of coverage. From podcasts to streaming live video of practice from San Antonio to constant coverage from said experts to live blogging & there's as much content as ever, to the point that it is repetitive as ever. How many times can you articulately say that Memphis' backcourt is pretty good?

Because the early-round action is regionally covered, I sat at a sports bar next to two wannabee college basketball junkies.

"Man, UCLA by 27, only the second quarter," one guy said to the other. So much for credibility. Sorry, buddy, did "quarter" just slip? Attention, Comedy Central on to my left.

"Yeah, UCLA is just too athletic, but I think they'll be tested pretty good in the next round," was the response.

Way to go, Hubie. Thanks for brainwashing the American population, simply because it's part of your job and because there's no accountability after you strike out. Swinging, in fact.

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