Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sports Saturday: 3/13/10

College basketball - I am all about college basketball this month, even before the NCAA Tournament starts. Conference tournaments are fun, too, even if they are basically meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Everyone likes brackets, right? I do!

This is also the week when, at least in the Raleigh area, the television deal is most confusing. Friday through Sunday, all ACC Tournament games are broadcast on both the ESPN family of networks, and on Raycom Sports. Raycom's feed is syndicated on various channels throughout the Southeast, including our local CBS affiliate, WRAL. This means a couple of things. First, it means that since we get the ACC Tournament on Raycom, the ESPN/ESPN2 feeds are blacked out locally. Second, it means that since WRAL is the local CBS affiliate, that CBS's regularly scheduled programming must be siphoned off to another station, most often "WRAL.2" (over the air 5.2, or cable 256). So, that's why some games in the list below are on different channels nationally versus locally. While you all get Mike Patrick and Len Elmore, I'll get Tim Brando and Mike Gminski.

So, which do I prefer - the Raycom broadcasts, or the ESPN broadcasts? That's easy: the Raycom broadcasts. I'll take Raycom over ESPN any day. The Raycom broadcasts have more local flavor, and the announcers are dedicated ACC announcers who really know these teams in and out, and you get the idea when you're watching a Raycom game that this is "the main event". Meanwhile, ESPN announcers have more of a national focus, which considering that they're a national network, that's fine. But ESPN has an agenda. Their announcers tend to drift off and talk about (for example) bubble teams in some other conference I don't care about, or promote another upcoming event on ESPN that I don't care about, or talk about how various players would perform in the NBA, which I really don't care about. Hey, how about talking about the game you're watching right now in front of you? And, of course, there's also the Dick Vitale factor. I'm pretty much over Dickie V.

This list includes all conference championship games, plus today's ACC, Big Ten, and Atlantic 10 semifinals.

Sat 11:30a - Conference USA Final: Houston v. UTEP, CBS
(not televised locally)
Sat 12:00p - America East Final: Boston University v. Vermont, ESPN2
Sat 1:00p - Atlantic 10 Semifinal #1: Rhode Island v. Temple, CBS College
Sat 1:30p - ACC Semifinal #1: Miami (FL) v. Duke, ESPN nationally / WRAL locally
Sat 1:30p - Big Ten Semifinal #1: Illinois v, Ohio State, CBS nationally / WRAL.2 locally
Sat 2:00p - MEAC Final: South Carolina State v. Morgan State, ESPN2
Sat 3:30p - Atlantic 10 Semifinal #2: Richmond v. Xavier, CBS College
Sat 3:45p - ACC Semifinal #2: NC State v. Georgia Tech, ESPN nationally / WRAL locally
Sat 3:45p - Big Ten Semifinal #2: Minnesota v. Purdue, CBS nationally / WRAL.2 locally
Sat 4:00p - Southland Final: Stephen F. Austin v. Sam Houston State, ESPN2
Sat 6:00p - Pac-10 Final: Washington v. California, CBS
Sat 6:00p - Big XII Final: Kansas St v. Kansas, ESPN
Sat 6:00p - MAC Final: Ohio v. Akron, ESPN2
Sat 7:00p - Mountain West Final: San Diego State v. UNLV, Versus
(not on DirecTV, of course)
Sat 8:00p - Big West Final: Long Beach State v. UC-Santa Barbara, ESPN2
Sat 8;30p - SWAC Final: Texas Southern v. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, ESPNU
Sat 9:00p - Big East Final: Georgetown v. West Virginia, ESPN
Sat 10:00p - WAC Final: New Mexico State v. Utah State, ESPN2
Sun 1:00p - ACC Final, ESPN nationally / WRAL locally
Sun 1:00p - Atlantic 10 Final, CBS nationally / WRAL.2 locally
Sun 1:00p - SEC Final, ABC
Sun 3:30p - Big Ten Final, CBS

Auto racing - NASCAR is off this week, so let's move on to a couple of other racing series, starting with Formula One. The 2010 Formula One season begins with this weekend's Grand Prix of Bahrain. Bahrain! Woo!

I love Formula One. Sure, I don't like it when they issue retroactive penalties six hours after the race ended, but they haven't done that in a while, so I'm currently on good terms with the sport. No, the racing itself isn't as exciting as NASCAR, but that's not the point. ... You know, I'm not going to bother trying to sell you on Formula One. You either like it, or you don't.

There's a lot of intrigue going into this season, including:
- The return of Michael Schumacher. During Schumacher's heyday, when he won pretty much every race and won the championship every year, I was sick of him. I wanted him to go away. (Funny - that's how most NASCAR fans feel about Jimmie Johnson.) Well, he did go away, and now...he's baaack! But now he's old, and he's not driving for Ferrari, so who knows what's going to happen? Yes, the team he's driving for (Mercedes GP, formerly known as Brawn GP) won the drivers and constructors championship last year, but that was based on a strong early season technological advantage that went away at mid-season once the rest of the field caught up. There is no reason to believe Brawn/Mercedes is still the best team, especially considering how drastically things change technologically between seasons.
- The rule change that will prohibit teams from refueling during the race. This will drastically change the racing, and eliminates a critical strategy element. Last year, fuel strategy was really the only effective way to pass anybody, and that's gone. So now what? There are two alternative views: 1) get ready for a 90-minute parade in which the finishing order is set on lap 1, or 2) now drivers will have to actually do the passing on the race track instead of relying on pit strategy, and this will improve the racing. Which will it be?
- The debut of the USF1 team. ... Oh, wait, scratch that one. A United States-based team was supposed to make its Formula One debut this season, and had secured a spot on the grid. But to make a long story short...FAIL. Get ready for another 100% non-American Formula One season. (But hey, at least the Canadian Grand Prix is back this season.)

Meanwhile, the series now known as the IZOD IndyCar Series begins its season this weekend, too, but...meh.

Sun 7:30a - Formula One Grand Prix of Bahrain, SPEED
Sun 11:30a - IndyCar Series at Sao Paulo, Brazil; Versus
(also available online for those of you who have DirecTV and really, really like IndyCar)

One final racing note: I was going to hold this thought until next week when NASCAR is back in action, but I won't have a Sports Saturday post next weekend (we'll be in Pennsylvania for a wedding), so...what's my take on Carl Edwards v. Brad Keselowski? I'll keep this short: I'm with Ed Hinton. (To summarize Hinton's take, NASCAR handled it right, it's not Edwards's fault that the car went airborne, and most of all, Keselowski deserved it.)

NHL - Sorry,'re taking a back seat to college basketball the next couple of weeks. This happens every March, so don't take this the wrong way, as if to say that I don't care about the NHL anymore. The fact is, the NHL regular season has been going on for five months now, and I'm always kind of burned out by this point in the season. My interest in the NHL will be renewed in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, how about working on that DirecTV/Versus deal so that I can watch the playoffs?

Sat 1:00p - Chicago at Philadelphia, NHL Center Ice
Sat 4:00p - Florida at San Jose, CSN California
Sat 7:00p - Phoenix at Carolina, Fox Sports Carolinas
Sat 7:00p - Boston at Montréal, NHL Network
Sat 7:00p - Edmonton at Toronto, NHL Center Ice
Sat 7:00p - Buffalo at Detroit, Fox Sports Detroit
Sat 7:00p - New Jersey at NY Islanders, MSG Plus
Sat 7:00p - St. Louis at Columbus, Fox Sports Ohio
Sat 10:00p - Ottawa at Vancouver, NHL Center Ice
Sun 12:30p - Washington at Chicago, NBC
Sun 3:00p - Colorado at Dallas, Altitude
Sun 3:00p - Philadelphia at NY Rangers, MSG
Sun 3:00p - Nashville at Los Angeles, Fox Sports Tennessee
Sun 5:00p - Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, Sun Sports
Sun 5:00p - Toronto at NY Islanders, MSG Plus
Sun 5:00p - Phoenix at Atlanta, SportSouth
Sun 6:00p - St. Louis at Minnesota, Fox Sports North
Sun 8:00p - San Jose at Anaheim, CSN California
Sun 10:00p - Calgary at Vancouver, NHL Center Ice


James Allen said...

No refueling? Bigger gas tank, then? I would also like to request the result of the rules change, since I avoided all things F1 this weekend.

Chris Allen said...

Either they have a bigger gas tank now, or the gas tank they ran last year could have supported a full race run, but they never filled it up all the way because it would have made the car heavy and slow.

Race results in a nutshell:
- Each team only made one pit stop during the race (they still have to pit at least once because of the "you have to use both types of tires" rule).
- Some teams' pit stops took less than 5 seconds.
- The top 5 going into the first turn would have been the finishing order, except Hamilton passed Rosberg for 4th on the pit stop (not on the track), and Vettel had mechanical problems and dropped from 1st to 4th.

James Allen said...

F1 just seems to be a qualifying series, since no passes occur on the track after the first ~10 seconds.

Spartangoogle said...

I watched the race too. I like the idea of finishing in 2 hours, but I agree with James that no passing to speak of takes out some excitement.
Worldwide, do you think it is a bigger deal that Michael Schumacher is back, or that Tiger W. is going to play in the Master's?
So, do you want us to route for or against Duke this weekend??